Jan 30, 2017

Here are the most important earnings reports to watch this week

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, which announces earnings Wednesday. (AP)

Earnings season heats up this week, with more than 100 of America's biggest companies set to announce financial results. Here are the most important companies to watch

  1. Aetna and Anthem: Two of the nation's largest health insurers release earnings Tuesday and Wednesday morning, respectively. Both companies have lost money due to participation in Obamacare exchanges, and both are attempting to consolidate with rivals as a result of the law. Look for clues as to how the industry will deal with antitrust oversight and Obamacare repeal.
  2. Facebook: is being cautious projecting future growth of ad sales on its flagship product, but we'll begin to learn Wednesday evening how profitably it can leverage subsidiaries like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.
  3. Amazon: the online retailer's "echo" products were the runaway hit of the holiday season. On Thursday, Amazon's reported revenues will tell us just how popular they were.
  4. Drug companies: Several of the nation's largest drug makers will announce earnings this week, including Pfizer early Tuesday and Merck on Thursday. Look for indications on how the industry plans to combat efforts to force drug companies to negotiate prices with Medicare or other federal entities.

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In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow57 mins ago - World

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.