Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Obamacare inquiry, euro zone sluggish, a bevy of earnings, Mexican clowns deny hit

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What to watch for today

An Obamacare inquiry begins. The first congressional hearing will be held into the rollout, which cost more than $400 million and has suffered technical problems since launching three weeks ago as the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s signature health-care law.

A big drugs deal. McKesson Corp, the largest US drug distributor by revenue, is expected to announce an offer to buy Germany’s Celesio AG, one of Europe’s biggest distributors, valuing it at up to $7.6 billion. McKesson hopes to gain purchasing power with drug makers and obtain more clout in emerging markets (paywall).

A bevy of corporate earnings. Microsoft might reveal details about its search for a new chief executive and its strategy for competing with Apple and Google. Amazon is expected to post another loss, but that likely won’t be a major worry since its revenues are still on the rise. Also reporting are Zynga, 3M, Ford, Hyundai, Daimler, América Móvil, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Altria, and Dow Chemical.

Hillary Clinton speaks at the Center for American Progress. Her re-emergence in discussions about national policy could give some hints as to the potential 2016 Democratic presidential field.

While you were sleeping

The euro-zone rebound is looking sluggish. The region’s October Purchasing Managers’ Index, which indicates business activity, fell to 51.5 from September’s 52.2 (paywall). Meanwhile, expansion in Germany’s private sector slowed, with its October index falling to 52.6 from 53.2 in September

Spain’s unemployment fell to 26% from 26.3% the previous quarter. The central bank said yesterday the Spanish economy had expanded for the first time in two years.

Panasonic is cutting 7,000 chipmaking jobs, or half of the unit’s workforce, as it eliminates its weaker operations.

North Korea has built new tunnels at its nuclear test site, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. The Kim Jong-un regime could be readying more underground detonations as part of its nuclear weapons program.

Hyundai profits edged higher on strong emerging markets like China and Brazil (paywall), though US and South Korean sales were weaker. The world’s fifth-largest automaker said it expects improvements in the fourth quarter.

The US government is investigating at least nine banks’ sales of mortgage-backed securities (paywall). The Department of Justice task force behind JPMorgan’s $13 billion settlement is also probing lenders including Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS.

JPMorgan could also face a Madoff penalty. The Justice Department thinks the bank turned a blind eye to Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme, though the lender could escape criminal charges in exchange for yet another fine.

Chinese manufacturing increased. A preliminary survey showed October manufacturing activity was 50.9 on the flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers Index, a seven-month high. Separately, Chinese interbank interest rates spiked to a four-month high of 5.7% on fears of a central bank liquidity crackdown.

Pinterest raised $225 million from Fidelity Investments and others in a new round of financing. The popular site for collecting images, which has almost no revenue, is now valued at $3.8 billion.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on how your McDonald’s dinner will cost you more because of climate change. ”Since 2011, rising temperatures across the United States have  led to drought conditions in cattle-ranching states like Texas and Oklahoma. Ranchers have had to cull herds facing limited pasture and pay more for feed, leading to fewer, more expensive cattle on the market. When cattle cost more, so does ground beef.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

ESPN could dominate more than just sports. The Bristol behemoth has the reach, talent, experience, and deep pockets necessary to own all manner of news endeavors.

We’re too obsessed with Twitter and the tech economy. What about jobs for the non-digerati?

The West has become the global norm. Globalization is not an economic event—it’s a psychological phenomenon showing Western values have become accepted around the world.

Fear of genetically modified foods is irrational. They can feed the world’s growing population (paywall) and protect the environment. And they’ve caused no health problems in two decades.

Surprising discoveries

Venomous crustacean discovered. The pinky-sized speleonectes tulumensis, which lives in underwater caves in Central America and Mexico, can liquify its prey’s flesh.

The most distant galaxy yet, located using the Hubble Space Telescope, is so far away that by the time its light reaches us, it appears as it was 13.1 billion years ago.

Mexico’s clowns denied links to a cartel assassination. A former drug boss was reportedly gunned down recently by men dressed as clowns. “The people who do that, they’re not clowns,” a leader at a Mexico City convention said.

Ja Rule is releasing a microwave cookbook. During his almost-two-year stay behind bars, the American rapper learned to cook using a microwave to avoid dismal prison food.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, microwave cooking recipes and glimpses of far-flung galaxies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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