Quartz Daily Brief – Asia Edition – US jobs report, Lumia 920, Barclays’ troubles, 10,000 hours

November 1, 2012
November 1, 2012

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The US presidential candidates finish off their last four days of campaigning in the states that count the most. These are eight “swing states,” or the ones where the campaigns can imagine the vote going one way or the other: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. Going into the last weekend of the long, two-year campaign, President Barack Obama appeared to have a slight edge in poll averages over his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. But most analysts say the election could still go either way.

Joblessness has been the No. 1 issue of the US presidential campaign. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics today will release the last jobs report before the Nov. 6 presidential election. The October figure will be announced at 8:30 a.m. EST. In September, the rate fell to 7.8% from 8.1% in August, its first month below 8% since Obama took office. Some analysts think the October rate will come in at 7.9%.

Ongoing power outages in the US. More than 4.6 million people were still without electricity and Consolidated Edison, the power company, said it may take (paywall) until Nov. 10 before the last customers are restored. Most customers, however, will have their power restored by the weekend, the utility said. New York City still has only partial subway service.

Nokia, the also-ran in the global smart-phone race, today releases in the UK its third attempt to recapture prime market share. Given the habits of critics, the Lumia 920 will be at turns ripped to shreds and heralded as the second coming. Then there are those who simply declare it “a muscle car…a monster truck.” Next truck stop after the UK: the US on Nov. 11.

 While you were sleeping

There is positive economic data from China. The much-watched purchasing manager’s index (PMI) edged up in October, a sign of economic improvement after months of distressing data from the engine of much of the world’s economy. But some analysts urge caution—one month of better manufacturing is not “a compelling rebound narrative,” said Patrick Chovanec, a business professor at Tsinghua University.

Barclays is in trouble again. Just three months ago, CEO Bob Diamond was forced out when the British bank paid $450 million to settle allegations that it tried to manipulate Libor, the interest rate benchmark. Now, new CEO Antony Jenkins faces a potential $470 million in additional fines on US charges that the bank tried to rig the West Coast electricity market.

ExxonMobil is having trouble producing oil. The world’s largest publicly traded oil company, ExxonMobil said Nov. 1 that it produced 3.96 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the third quarter of 2012, 7.5% less than in the same period last year. The decline comes as the company sheds its conservative image and pursues exploration in some of the world’s toughest places, including Kurdistan, the Russian Arctic and possibly even Afghanistan.

Starbucks raised its profit forecast for its current fiscal year. The US coffee chain reported 10% revenue growth in Asia from cafes open at least one year, but a 1% drop in Europe on the same basis last quarter. It has upped the number of net new stores it plans to open worldwide during its new fiscal year to 1,300 from 1,200.

Climate change is no longer on the sidelines of the US election. Fear of its impact has driven New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, arguably the country’s most influential centrist politician, to a last-minute endorsement of Obama for re-election. Bloomberg had been refusing to back either candidate, but on Nov. 1 said that Hurricane Sandy persuaded him to back Obama.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why Apple, despite having surpassed Microsoft as the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, is now on the wane. “There is mounting evidence—of the sort that technologists understand but markets often miss—that Apple has lost the narrative that took it from death’s doorstep to world’s most valuable company by market capitalization. That doesn’t mean it’s about to fail—just that it’s not destined to keep on growing.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Why did China’s presumptive next leader, Xi Jinping, vanish in September? He had a chair thrown at him in a political meeting, and hurt his back, according to one report.

For those who still think talent is all about 10,000 hours, read this.

Russians may be headed for an official ban on smoking in public. What is taking the Chinese so long to act?

What’s that up in the sky over China? Is it a new, home-grown stealth jet? Take a look here for yourself.

Geniuses are often branded nuts before they are recognized. So where does Thomas Nagel fit in?

Surprising discoveries

Next week, passenger windows will not open in Beijing taxis.

The world’s most important economic cities have something in common when it comes to hurricanes—they are almost all located on vulnerable coasts.

Scroll through and take a look at the two marauder ants.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, ant photos, and window crank reports to hi@qz.com.

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