Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Sandy hits the US, Baidu’s billion-dollar quarter, Random Penguin

October 29, 2012
October 29, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hurricane Sandy lands on the US east coast. The huge storm makes landfall, with impact expected from Virginia to Massachusetts.  Watch the storm’s arrival, and learn how it is affecting both markets and the US presidential race, which ends in just eight days. And, yes, climate change is involved.

The Bank of Japan announces interest rates. The central bank is expected to ease monetary policy further by boosting its purchases of government bonds, but also real estate investment trusts and exchange-traded funds. Don’t expect central bankers in emerging markets to react well to further signs of the “currency war” between advanced economies seeking new growth.

Baidu’s billion-dollar expectations. The Chinese online search company announces its earnings this morning, and analysts forecast a $1 billion quarter. After 12 quarters of exceeding expectations, though, the company is starting to face tougher competition within China, and some analysts are bearish. Still, with 80% of the market in its home country, the company has a lot going for it.

Hints about the future of the euro. European Central Bank Chair Mario Draghi speaks in Frankfurt, Germany, today, and euro watchers will be listening closely for hints about the region’s financial future.

While you were sleeping

Hurricane Sandy disrupted business on the east coast of the United States.  US equity trading was suspended and federal offices in Washington, DC were closed to the public. More than 9,000 flights were canceled, and over 600,000 customers in the greater New York area have lost electricity so far. The potential costs of the storm are hard to measure, but a worst-case scenario could result in $55 billion in damages. Check in here for ongoing updates on how the storm is affecting markets.

Meanwhile, the (fiscal) rain in Spain is…clearing up? Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country still doesn’t need a bailout, while struggles to recapitalize Greek banks have that country’s markets (and creditors) on edge.

In Syria, a truce that never was comes to an end. While diplomats hoped that a hostilities might cease during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, the Assad regime launched the most intense air raid since the civil war began.

UBS may shrink back to its private banking roots. The Swiss institution’s public relations staff may soon start calling financial journalists to remind them to “stop calling us an investment bank.” UBS plans to slash 10,000 jobs in capital-intensive trading businesses to reduce risk-weighted assets by a massive $107 billion and return to its roots. Here’s why.

Rising optimism for Indian oil projects after the nation got a new cabinet. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reshuffled his top team to bring in younger, fresher faces ahead of elections that could take place as early as next year. The most interesting change for foreign investors could be 72-year-old Veerappa Moily getting the top job at the oil ministry. His predecessor Jaipal Reddy was criticized by industry for being too slow to approve new oil field developments. Moily has promised to speed things up.

Random Penguin is for real. Pearson and Bertelsmann made it official on Monday that they would join together their rival publishing units, Penguin and Random House. That might work out.

Former Philippines president faces lengthy corruption trial. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who ruled the Southeast Asian archipelago from 2001 to 2010, was arraigned by a local court for allegedly diverting $8.8 million in state funds.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the consequences of Laos’s admission to the World Trade Organization: “The country puts great hope on WTO membership to help increase exports to foreign markets. Some argue that the results vary too much by country to conclude whether this happens, but one study finds that sales of long-standing exports to new markets are not helped by WTO accession, only exports to existing foreign markets. For Laos, which already has a trade deficit with its top trading partners Thailand, China, and Vietnam, gaining access to new markets is key. Without that, there is little benefit in joining the WTO, considering other pressures it will bring.”  Read more here.

Matters of debate

The world after November. What’s going to happen after the world’s two largest economies figure out who’s in charge? Former NATO Sec-Gen and Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana takes a crack at the answer.

Investors and employers chase Chinese labor inland. And that’s good news for Chinese workers who want things like pensions and health care.

Budweiser and KFC aren’t American brands anymore. But they are luxury products in emerging markets!

Latin America doesn’t like dollar developments. US Fed Chair Ben Bernanke isn’t held in high esteem by the region’s emerging economies.

Surprising discoveries

Brazil loves tiny dogs! The country is the world leader in per-capita possession of dogs weighing less than 20 lbs, and that’s got economic implications.

Moore’s Law remains in effect. IBM reports that advances in nanotube technology will ensure that computer processor speeds will continue to double, more or less, each year.

Yoko Ono didn’t break up the Beatles. That’s still John Lennon’s fault.

How to keep your cell phone charged as long as possible in a power outage. We aren’t afraid to be servicey.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, and Hurricane Sandy survival tips to hi@qz.com.

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