Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—ECB rates, Facebook expenses, USB M&A, high-performing hedge fund

May 1, 2013
May 1, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The European Central Bank announces its latest interest rate call. Most analysts suspect the ECB could cut rates from their current 0.75% level—already the lowest interest rate target the bank has ever set. But behind the scenes much of Wall Street is expecting even more, such as a measure to help small- and medium-sized businesses access credit more cheaply.

Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting is the Davos of Greater Noida. From all over the world, they come, 4,400 delegates to the four-day confab in Uttar Pradesh, where they will discuss sustainable development throughout Asia. A report released today by the ADB emphasized the importance of getting off fossil fuels to the future of the region and is announcing investments that fit with its bullishness about renewables.

Cheap oil probably reduced the US trade deficit. As in February, it’s also likely that exports are up.

Head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission may discuss plans for money-market mutual funds. These funds are entirely unregulated, and it’s newly sworn-in SEC chair Mary Jo White’s duty to do so.

Earnings blitzkrieg: General Motors, AIG, Kellogg, BMW, BSkyB, Siemens, Royal Dutch Shell, Lufthansa

While you were sleeping

Facebook succeeded in boosting mobile revenue, but its operating margin fell. The US internet company reported a 38% rise in sales during the first quarter from a year earlier, but increasing expenses concerned some investors.

The US economy hit a soft patch. Companies hired the fewest employees in seven months and manufacturing growth slowed. Thanks, mini-austerity.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange promised to do better. The CME says it will close loopholes allowing high-speed traders to exploit weaknesses in its system to gain an advantage over other traders.

Coda Automotive’s made-in-China electric car hit the end of the road. Bankruptcy likely spells the end of this “unique California-China electric car collaboration.”

Steady as she goes, says the US Federal Reserve. Stimulus will continue at its current rate until morale improves.

Copper is cheap, which means manufacturing is down. Great news if you want to finally get that bronze statue of yourself cast, not so great if you were planning on funding it with the proceeds of your business empire.

Earnings Winners: Merck beat street estimates on account of a favorable tax rate, but had to cut its 2013 forecast on a drop in sales of its star diabetes drug. Recovering advertising revenue at Viacom’s TV networks sent the stock to a record high. Comcast’s revenue is up, no thanks to broadcast division NBC. Earnings Losers: Processing $690 billion in transactions wasn’t enough to lift MasterCard’s earnings above expectations, and most of the company’s growth is in emerging markets. Time Warner’s revenue was flat, thanks to losses on movies and magazines.

Quartz obsession interlude

Sverre Rørvik Nilsen on how one of the best-performing, least-known hedge funds in the world trades entirely on models of human behavior. “Our hypothesis is that most of what happens in the markets during a single day is noise created by orders, rumors and other temporary influences and that there is no informational value in this. Unlike our other funds, we do not try to separate the signal from the noise but accept it for being just noise.…Time is instead spent on creating mathematical and statistical models meant to uncover short-term human behavior.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

UBS should stop trying to be a major investment bank. It would be better off slimming down further and behaving like a “boutique.”

Clothing company reactions to the Bangladesh building collapse are all over the map. Including, naturally, a lot of denial.

Are videogame pirates completely immune to irony? A game development company released a pirated version of its own game, which is about a game development company, and in the pirated version your business is destroyed by piracy. Users complained.

Altering our environment has been essential to human survival since prehistory. Not to be cavalier about environmental destruction, but “nature” hasn’t existed for a few thousand years now.

Netflix just lost 1,800 movies and no one seems to care. So much for customers of the US video subscription service clamoring for the “Long Tail.”

There was no way to predict the housing bubble. Everyone was being “rational” in the market.

Do law school rankings matter now that the law isn’t such a great field to go into? Here, young graduate, are the 50 best law schools in the US, if you dare.

Surprising discoveries

A majority of Britons and French would like to fire their governments. A new poll says French president Francois Hollande would lose to far-right Marine Le Pen tomorrow, and David Cameron’s conservative party is about to lose big in local elections.

Pope gets papal neighbor. Benedict returns to the Vatican.

With monopoly on human space flight, Russia acts like monopolist. Want to fly to space? That will be an additional $5 million a seat, please.

IBM made a stop-motion film with individual atoms. This is astonishing.

Secretive father-and-son outing for billionaires convenes in Mexico. “There is nothing mysterious about it,” insists the world’s second-wealthiest man.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and ideas for housewarming gifts for a two-pope household to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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