European negotiations, Chinese cyber espionage and the wages of sin

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It's a big day for

Europe The leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia meet to try and hammer out a peace agreement while eurozone finance ministers gather in hopes of hatching a new deal for Greece. (Bloomberg)

Barack Obama warned Vladimir Putin last night that he must negotiate a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Ukraine or risk the consequences. He had confirmed on Monday that he was considering supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine.(FT)

If you're trying to keep track of what's going on in Greece and wondering how it got to this stage, the Peterson Institute for International Economics explains the Greek tragedy in six charts. (PIIE video)

PepsiCo Set to be the latest American company stung by the strong dollar when it announces fourth-quarter earnings, traders reckon. The rising greenback has made American goods and services more expensive overseas and eroded sales for the likes of Pfizer and Procter & Gamble. (Bloomberg)

Tesla Elon Musk presents fourth-quarter earnings and is reportedly preparing to fire overseas executives after weak sales of its electric cars in China. Tesla's growth there has been tepid — it has exported around 3,500 cars to China, missing its goal for 5,000 or 30 per cent of its global target. (Reuters, NYT$)

In the news

The big Apple The tech giant became the first US company to record a stock market valuation above $700bn at the close of trading. The company is now valued at $300bn more than ExxonMobil, the next most valuable US company, and just exceeds the combined value of Google and Microsoft. (FT)

Chinese hackers hit blue-chips Few are immune to cyber criminals. Any visitor to the Forbes website from November 28 to December 1 last year would have been infected by a Chinese attack, which targeted thousands of computers linked to blue-chip companies, including US defence contractors and banks. (FT)

A topless protester jumps on a car carrying Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who gave evidence for the first time in his trial on charges of "aggravated pimping". The former head of the International Monetary Fund said he rarely attended sex parties because he was "saving the world". (FT)

US aid worker's death confirmed Kayla Mueller was held hostage by Isis for 18 months and the militants last week said that she was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed the building where she was held. Barack Obama vowed to hunt down those responsible. (Reuters)

Food for thought

The wages of sin is exorbitant profit. One dollar invested in US tobacco companies in 1900, with dividends soberly reinvested, would have turned into $6.28m. A dollar invested in the more sober and traditional industry of US shipbuilding, however, would only have turned into $1,225. (FT)

Female targets The chief executives of PepsiCo, Yahoo, DuPont, Mondelez, Hewlett-Packard and General Motors are all women and their companies have all been targeted by activist investors. Is it because male activist investors see women as softer targets? Every one that Andrew Ross Sorkin speaks to is outraged by the very question. (NYT$)

Syrian Monuments Men Antiquities smuggling by Isis has exploded in recent months and looting is now the militant group's second-largest source of finance after oil. A group of greying academics has been braving shelling, smugglers and jihadis across war-torn Syria on a mission to save ancient artefacts and imperilled archaeological sites. (WSJ$)

At $1,125 a pill, Gilead's hepatitis C drug drew heated criticism from politicians, doctors and the public. Now critics are asking if the US pharmaceutical industry's premium pricing model can endure. (FT)

Video of the day

Escalation in Ukraine The FT's Courtney Weaver reports from rebel-controlled Donetsk on how residents in the city are coping.

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