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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—China data deluge, US-Russia face-off, Apple-Samsung patent rematch, in-flight standup comedy

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

The smartphone patent war rages on. The US International Trade Commission could ban the import of four smartphones from Samsung for violating Apple patents. US president Barack Obama overturned the commission’s last ruling, which banned Apple’s iPhones for violating Samsung’s patents.

All eyes on France. After Germany’s industrial output outperformed exepectations on Wednesday, the next question mark is France. Output from Europe’s second largest economy is expected have risen by 0.1% in June, after falling 0.4% in May.

US-Russia face-off. Two days after US president Obama cancelled his summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet their counterparts from Russia. Contentious issues on the agenda include Russia’s asylum offer for Edward Snowden, the countdown in Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.

While you were sleeping

A deluge of Chinese data. Consumer inflation in July was unchanged at 2.7% from a year earlier, with producer prices continuing their decline, down another 2.3%. Further data on industrial output, retail sales and urban fixed investment growth are expected later in the day.

Singapore raised its growth forecast. The city state said it expected to grow 3.5% this year, up from previous estimates of 2.5%, thanks to improvements in major trade partners like the US and EU.

Taiwan’s Fukushima? Taiwan said that its First Nuclear Power Plant in the north may have been leaking toxic water for up to three years, complicating an already controversial plan to build more reactors.

The NSA isn’t just tracking suspicious people. The US National Security Agency is reportedly searching email messages to and from the US to find people who mention foreigners that are under surveillance.

Tesco mulls a China merger. Britain’s biggest retailer is exploring a joint venture with China Resources to combine the companies’ supermarkets and liquor stores; Tesco would own 20% of the combined firm.

A strong US housing market. Fannie Mae’s profits more than doubled to $10.1 billion, boosted by a recovery in the US housing market. Prices for non-apartment building homes have climbed in 87% of cities, boosting Fannie Mae’s figures and putting President Obama in an awkward position after he proposed winding down the state-owned lender.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why China’s crazy love affair with steel is an example of how its finances could implode. “Some think this means the economy is stabilizing; “steel demand is quite strong” (paywall), Maquarie analyst Graeme Train said. But it’s weird, because China’s businesses really don’t need new steel. It’s so hard to find buyers that steel mills are now storing 225,000 tonnes of steel, up 1.8% from last year. By one estimate the industry has a fifth more production capacity than it needs. And of China’s major steel mills, 40 out of 86 operated at a loss in H1 2013.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Militant atheism goes too far. Richard Dawkins’ tweets on Islam are just as irrational as the rants of an extreme Muslim cleric.

Why the euro zone will come apart. The single currency has failed to become the harmonizing force it was supposed to be.

Why Bitcoin can’t go legit. The closer it gets to being treated like a currency, the less useful it will be as a method of exchange.

China must go local. Fiscal and financial decentralization is what China needs to keep its economy on track.

Surprising discoveries

That recycling bins is stalking you. London bins are monitoring the mobile phones of passers-by to help companies target their ads.

Snowden’s email provider is closing, can’t say why. Either “become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away.”

The persuasive power of “Like.” positive nudge on social media is contagious, but a negative reaction is not.

“…and boy are my arms tired.” Certain Virgin Airways flights will feature live stand-up comedy.

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