Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Abe’s “womenomics,” US-Iran icebreaker, earnings kickoff, bathroom M&A

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What to watch for today

Engaging with Iran. US secretary of state John Kerry and counterparts from five other major powers will meet with the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, perhaps setting the ball rolling toward a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani caused a stir with a disputed quote condemning the Holocaust.

US recovery picks up pace. The second and final revision of the second quarter’s GDP is likely to show that the economy grew at a 2.7% annual rate, up from a prior estimate of 2.5%. Pending August home sales, however, are expected to decline marginally.

Earnings kickoff. Athletic gear maker Nike’s first-quarter earnings are projected to rise 24% from the same period last year. The report could be seen as the official start of the US earnings season, since Nike has replaced frontrunner Alcoa in the Dow Jones index.

Shinzo Abe addresses the UN. Japan’s prime minister is expected to discuss his pro-growth, anti-deflation reforms, but  instead of “Abenomics” he says he’ll focus on “womenomics.”

While you were sleeping

H&M hits the mark and then some. Shares in the Swedish fast-fashion retailer set a new record after it reported a robust jump in quarterly profits. By aiming more upmarket, the company’s margin expanded for the first time in three years. 

UK GDP heats up. Britain’s economic growth in the second quarter accelerated to 0.7%, in line with expectations, as construction and industrial spending rose at their fastest rate in three years.

$3 billion bathroom M&A. Japanese bathroom fixtures firm Lixil and the Development Bank of Japan are buying German rival Grohe from two private equity owners.

Airbus booked $15 billion of deals in Asia. The aerospace giant is selling 160 jets to expanding Chinese and Vietnamese carriers.

Three major US data brokers were hacked. The attacks on D&B, LexisNexis, and Altegrity were reportedly orchestrated by a crime syndicate that sold their data online; the FBI is investigating.

A Russia-Japan spat heated up. Moscow said it will revoke visa-free travel for Japanese authorities to the disputed Kurile islands, north of Hokkaido, if Japan persists with its claims of ownership.

South Korea scaled back its 2014 budget. The government projected its first drop in revenue for four years due to slower growth. President Park Geun Hye said she would have to reduce aid she’d promised pensioners and put off deficit reduction plans.

Floods threatened Thailand. Officials say defenses around a key industrial park will hold amid concerns about a repeat of 2011, when more than 800 people died and auto firms were hit hard.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on what losing the Alibaba IPO might mean for the venerable Hong Kong stock exchange. “Is Hong Kong really the financial gateway to China? Or will increasingly muscular moves from the mainland and competition from New York and Singapore result in high-flying companies like Alibaba bypassing Hong Kong altogether?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Bill Gates should follow Steve Ballmer out of Microsoft. Gates’ track record as chairman is patchy. It may be in shareholders’ best interest for him to move on.

Smartphones are changing supermarket shopping. As smartphones make shoppers less impulsive, advertisers will grow louder and more intrusive.

Losing is good for you. Nonstop awards for kids can actually result in lower achievement.

China will disappoint the pessimists. Its economy is in effect creating another India every two years.

Surprising discoveries

America’s toilet turnaround. US commode manufacturing makes a surprising comeback.

Slaves to soccer? Nepalese migrants building stadiums for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup are subject to horrific conditions; their mistreatment has been an issue for years.

North Korea’s doomsday scenario. A Rand study suggests the brittle regime could collapse with little warning, setting up a China-US military confrontation.  

Singapore is running out of room. Officials in the city-state, home to 5.4 million people, might build a massive underground labyrinth complete with malls and cycling lanes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, made-in-America toilets and doomsday scenarios to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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