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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition–Softbank, China’s richest, Billabong

Good morning Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

Banks happy. JP Morgan, the largest US bank by assets and a a bellwether for the US financial sector’s health, reports earnings for the third quarter this morning. Analysts expect revenue to rise to $24 billion and earnings per share of $1.22. Wells Fargo is also reporting. Both banks are expected to announce a positive outlook because government support for the housing market has begun to revive mortgage lending.

Euro zone manufacturing. Industrial production numbers from the euro zone for August will offer guidance on how hard manufacturers are getting hit by the ongoing debt crisis and recession.

Oil vulnerable. The International Energy Agency just cut its oil demand growth forecast (see page 3 of pdf) for the rest of 2012. In its monthly report, the IEA blamed this on bearish economic indicators from the US, the euro zone and China. Prices held steady so far today because of continued tensions in the Middle East.

While you were sleeping:

China richest stay extremely rich. China’s top 100 wealthiest are worth $220 billion this year. That is more than Ireland’s economic output last year. Forbes, which has released its annual list of China’s richest people, says the nation’s wealthiest only lost 7% of their combined net worth in the last 12 months, despite the economic slowdown. Topping the list is Zong Qinghou, who heads beverage giant Hangzhou Wahaha Group and is worth an estimated $10 billion.

China’s currency hit a 19-year high against the dollar. The renminbi’s rise has surprised some investors, given the slowing of the Chinese economy and the government’s related interest in stimulating exports.

The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for its historic role in uniting European nations once divided by war.

Softbank shares plunged. The Japanese internet and mobile giant’s stock fell sharply after it emerged the firm is in talks to buy a substantial stake in America’s Sprint Nextel. Shareholders are worried about the debt burden Softbank would take on to buy Sprint.

Singapore shrinks. The Lion City’s GDP fell 1.5% in the three months to September. Its manufacturing sector–many Singaporean businesses own factories in China–is suffering from the global downturn. But the Central Bank is not cutting interest rates, saying Singapore has a tight labour market which could push up consumer prices. There have been calls for Singapore to open its doors wider to foreign workers.

Billabong buyout is a wipeout. Private equity house Texas Pacific Group has ditched a deal to buy the Australian surfwear wholesaler and retailer. The Billabong brand is strong, but the company has made mistakes such as opening too many shops too quickly, its new CEO has admitted.

Quartz obsession interlude:

Euro Crunch. Greece lost 1,000 jobs a day in the year that ended in July, pushing total unemployment to a new high of 25%. Quartz’s Ritchie King shows the carnage.

Matters of debate:

Is China’s money supply heading up or down? The Central Bank wants to (paywall) stimulate the economy. But reports say Chinese banks are resisting that pressure and keeping borrowing costs high to protect their balance sheets.

Who needs bank loans when you can sell bonds? Big businesses will borrow more money on bond markets than from banks this year, an Ernst & Young report finds.

Would an independent Scotland become the next Greece?

Oil’s LIBOR? French oil giant Total makes a rare open attack on energy pricing company Platts, accusing it of an erratic and inaccurate oil-pricing system.

PC sales will be lower this year for the first time in 11 years. The industry is blaming the global economy for the downturn. But then why are tablet sales exploding?

Now’s a good time to buy European businesses. An investor puts his money where his mouth is.

Surprising discoveries:

A planet twice the size of earth was discovered orbiting in the constellation of Cancer. And it’s largely made of diamond.

The way you eat your eggs says something about your personality. Scientists find statistical evidence suggesting that boiled-egg eaters are disorganized, poached eggers are outgoing and fried-egg aficionados have a high sex drive.

Also happening today: It is the 10th anniversary of the Bali Bombings. Commemorative events have been going on in Bali and over in Australia, where 88 of the 202 victims were from.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, and European asset purchases to hi@qz.com.

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