Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Slovenia showdown, Bibi in China, Malaysian mandate, Ironman 3

May 6, 2013
May 6, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The worsening state of Slovenia. It is struggling to avoid becoming the sixth euro zone economy, after Cyprus, to need a bailout.

Big IPOs in Hong Kong. Bankers start taking orders for the public offerings of brokerage China Galaxy Securities and the Sinopec Engineering unit of Asia’s largest oil refiner. Hong Kong IPO activity has been in a slump, and investors are looking for these deals valued together at $3.6 billion to jumpstart it. Shares in the two will start trading later this month.

The Middle East comes to China. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu flies to China for a week of diplomacy aimed at getting firmer support in Syria and Iran. The Chinese still buy Iranian oil, and have held out for a negotiated solution to conflict in Syria. Syria Sunday accused Israel of airstrikes for the second time in three days—and there’s rising concern that the civil war there could spill out into broader regional conflict. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas separately arrived in China Sunday, though no joint meetings are expected with Netanyahu.

YouTube may start charging for some channels. Subscriptions will cost $1.99 monthly per channel. An announcement is expected this week.

It’s a holiday in Japan, the United Kingdom and Orthodox European countries. Markets will remain closed.

Over the weekend

The ruling coalition won Malaysia’s election. Prime minister Najib Razak’s National Front coalition extended its 55-year rule, winning 133 seats in the 222-seat parliament. The opposition People’s Alliance managed 89. Among Najib’s plans for the country are $444 billion in infrastructure investments by 2020. Malaysian markets soared.

Growth in China’s services slowed to levels not seen since August 2011. An HSBC survey of purchasing managers for April slid to 51.1, down from 54.3 in March, suggesting a weak revival. (Anything above 50 indicates growth.)

“Ironman 3″ kicked off summer blockbuster season with a hefty $175 million at the North American box office. It is now the second-biggest opening weekend of all time, after “The Avengers.” The film has grossed over $680 million worldwide. Suddenly that $5.86 million worth of cars destroyed in production doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Australian retail sales fell 0.4% in March, the first decline this year. That may affect the Australian central bank’s decision to cut rates, perhaps by 0.25%, when it meets tomorrow.

The  Asian Development Bank is running out of cash. The amount loaned by the bank may decline from $10 billion to $8 billion, P Chidambaram, India’s finance minister, warned the ADB’s governors.

The Oracle spoke. Investor Warren Buffett presided over Berkshire Hathaway’s annual 35,000-person shareholders’ meeting. Buffett swatted away questions from critic Doug Kass, and dodged speculation about the identity of his agreed-upon successor. In case you were wondering, Buffett said Berkshire hadn’t put any of its $49 billion in cash into bitcoin.

A good weekend for Team Merkel. Germany’s Free Democrat coalition gathered this weekend at a congress in preparation for elections in five months. The coalition with notoriously poor internal unity held it together: good news for Angela Merkel, who needs a united FDP to secure her next term. Meanwhile, Merkel’s conservative opponents slid in polls Sunday.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on Apple’s implicit bet that the US won’t roll back corporate taxes on repatriating overseas cash. “Like many tech companies with funds overseas, Apple has called for a holiday, or even better, an end, to that practice.The idea is under discussion in Washington, with lawmakers promising to give it their all and some Republicans speculating that tax reform could become a condition for raising the country’s borrowing limit in September. Which would be crazy—would you risk a global financial meltdown to close some loopholes?—but would certainly get the issue on the map. But the markets might give us better data about the prospects of reform than political rhetoric. Apple’s new debt is essentially a decision to sell tax reform short.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A failed improv comic makes an inspiring graduation speaker. Especially when that comic is Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, speaking to the University of Michigan class of 2013. Watch the 17-minute video here.

South Korea is a crummy market for asset managers. Goldman Sachs is just the latest foreign firm to exit the market.

Why won’t Indians stop tooting their horns?It’s like a sickness.

Japan is running out of children. The population of citizens under 15 dropped to 16.49 million, down 150,000 from last year.

The US Supreme Court hasn’t been this pro-business since the 1940s. That’s even though its decisions overall are only slightly more conservative than earlier courts.

Surprising discoveries

France’s first lady is taking it easy on taxpayers. The office of Valerie Trierweiler costs the state €19,742 a month, just one-third of the outlay for her predecessor Carla Bruni.

The Financial Times has really bored headline writers: Purveyors of footwear worry about “showrooming” so, obviously, “Shoe stores sock it to online buyers.”

You can buy Neil Armstrong’s heartbeatThe US space commander’s electrocardiogram is among the items in a New Hampshire auction.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, suggestions for boosting Japan’s baby count, and space mission artifacts to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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