Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—global stocks retreat, China sputters, atheists cleared for Heaven

May 23, 2013
May 23, 2013

What to watch for today

How far will stocks fall? The Nikkei dropped 7.3%—the worst decline in two years—on news of weakness in China and fears that the US Federal Reserve might scale back bond purchases. European stocks followed suit, with the FTSE down 1.5%; S&P 500 futures are also down 1.5%.

Justifying drone strikes. Obama will lay out the rationale for his heavy use of drones against suspected terrorists, a day after his administration finally admitted killing four Americans.

Britain’s response. Authorities investigating the brutal murder of a soldier in London are trying to determine whether it was “the beginning of a possible planned wave of attacks,” along with a possible Nigerian connection.

Gap gets grilled. As the US retailer reports earnings, it could face questions about why it refuses to sign an agreement to improve worker safety in Bangladesh after the worst accident in the history of the garment industry.

US houses and jobs. The Labor Department will unveil weekly jobless claims, and the Commerce Department will report new home sales for April. Realtor data already showed that US home sales are at a three-year high.

While you were sleeping

China’s economy sputtered. Surprise manufacturing data from HSBC showed that factory activity slowed for the first time in seven months. Beijing may not be able or willing to do much about it.

The euro zone downturn eased slightly. The flash May PMI index improved to 47.5 from 47.0 in April, a bit ahead of expectations, but anything below 50 still indicates contraction.

A US-approved board of directors. Softbank’s latest Sprint Nextel offer includes a seat on the board for Uncle Sam, because of national security fears surrounding Chinese technology.

GE eyed a consumer finance IPO. CEO Jeffrey Immelt told a conference that he wants to focus on commercial businesses like aircraft leasing and equipment finance.

An 80-year-old Japanese man climbed Mt. Everest. Yuichiro Miura set the record for oldest summiteer—just in case you needed some encouragement to go to the gym this morning.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zachary Seward on Steve Jobs’ hard-nosed tactics. ”The US government’s price-fixing lawsuit against Apple goes to trial next month in New York. Ahead of its court date, the US released emails that purport to show Apple was the ”ringleader” in a scheme to set artificially high ebook prices with some of the largest American publishers, which have already settled the case. The emails have mostly been viewed in the context of the lawsuit, but they also provide an extraordinary view of high-stakes negotiation between the leaders of two powerful firms, Apple and News Corp.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

All good atheists go to Heaven. So says Pope Francis—whether they want to or not.

American presidents always disappoint. The cruel curse of high expectations.

Al Jazeera is the best thing ever to happen to journalism. Or perhaps not.

Ai Weiwei’s provocateurism is not replicable. The Chinese artist’s heavy metal video makes him too popular to arrest.

Surprising discoveries

Greek yogurt’s toxic downside. A manufacturing byproduct has killed tens of thousands of fish and is driving manufacturers to despair.

Kim Jong-un loves making children cry. Actually, that’s not very surprising.

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk lottery. The cops found guns only 0.02% of the time.

Iceberg supper clubs. Surprise! Dining atop a piece of floating ice can be dangerous

Marijuana gives pigs the munchies. What to do with those surplus leaves and stems.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, yogurt recycling ideas, and stoned pig pictures to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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