Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Malaysia Air mystery, AbbVie-Shire deal sealed, FedEx indicted, diversified superheros

July 18, 2014
July 18, 2014

What to watch for today

Who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17? A team from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe found one black box from the jet that crashed in eastern Ukraine; pro-Russian militants suspected of shooting the plane down found another and sent it Moscow. Kiev released what it said were intercepted phone calls between rebel commanders confirming the attack, but the rebels denied any role in bringing down the flight.

Berlusconi faces the fire. An appeals court is due to rule on the former Italian prime minister’s convictions for abusing power and engaging a 17-year-old in prostitution. If the convictions are upheld, he faces a seven-year prison term.

A revamped GE faces the future. The industrial conglomerate’s second-quarter earnings come in the wake of the biggest acquisition in its history, to buy Alstom’s power assets for $16.9 billion. And the pending IPO of its consumer finance arm, Synchrony Financial, could be the US’s biggest public offering this year.

Americans are in a glass-half-full kind of mood. The July consumer sentiment survey is expected to show that consumers feel more confident about the economy than they did in June.

Typhoon Rammasun hits mainland China. The storm that caused at least 38 deaths in the Philippines is due to bring winds of 161 mph during the late morning EDT, and could continue on to northern Vietnam.

While you were sleeping

AbbVie sealed the deal with Shire. The US pharmaceutical firm agreed to buy its Dublin-based counterpart for $54.8 billion. The acquisition is centered around tax benefits, with the combined company expected to relocate to the UK to lower its corporate tax rate.

Israel prepared to go deeper into Gaza. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military is preparing for the possibility of “significantly widening” its ground operation. The Palestinian death toll passed 250, and one Israeli soldier was killed overnight.

China’s GDP expectations were managed downwards… Premier Li Keqiang said the government will not be concerned if growth doesn’t quite hit the government’s 7.5% target this year.

…As its housing market cooled off. Prices in China’s top 70 cities rose by 4.2% in June from a year ago, compared to a 5.6% increase in May.

Alibaba’s IPO could be discounted by 22%. A Bloomberg survey suggested the Chinese internet giant may price its IPO to value the company at $154 billion, to avoid the kind of listings flop Facebook endured; analysts believe it is worth at least $200 billion. The company has delayed the IPO until September.

FedEx was indicted for conspiracy. US prosecutors say the shipping firm earned $820 million by shipping controlled substances from illegal online pharmacies, despite repeated warnings from law enforcement agencies. FedEx countered that it cannot be held responsible for the legality of the products it ships.

Rémy Cointreau slowed its decline. Quarterly sales fell 5.7% to €214.8 million ($290.4 million) due to slower spending in western Europe and a corruption crackdown in China. But the decline was much smaller than in the two previous quarters.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Frommer on Microsoft preparing for its new role as the underdog. “In reality, Microsoft is now an underdog, and new CEO Satya Nadella seems to get that. Sure, Windows still runs more than 90% of desktop and laptop PCs sold worldwide. But the near-term future of the computer industry isn’t just PCs—it’s also mobile devices, including phones and tablets. With that broader definition of a computer, Microsoft Windows powered just 14% of computers shipped last year, according to Gartner. In a software era defined by cross-device continuity and network effects, Microsoft doesn’t have nearly enough.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Hillary Clinton’s “non-campaign” presidential campaign is a winner. The longer she waits, the harder it will be to beat her.

Technology is kickstarting a new sexual revolution. But the end result may be that we won’t want to have sex at all.

Go ahead, reuse weak passwords across multiple accounts. The security wonks who say you shouldn’t are wrong.

Harry Potter played a part in Obama’s 2008 victory. Millennials who read the fantasy series were brainwashed by its Democratic values.

Surprising discoveries

The original Rickroll video disappeared. Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was removed from YouTube, probably for copyright violations.

Mount Fuji is getting angry. The Japanese earthquake that caused the Fukushima disaster raised pressure below the dormant volcano.

A duck-shaped comet is baffling European scientists. Their mission to land a spacecraft on it just got a lot more difficult.

The use of f-bombs spiked during the recession. They were tolerated in the workplace during hard times.

Marvel is diversifying its superheroes. The comic book giant announced a black Captain America and a female Thor.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, repetitive password ideas, and novelty comets to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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