Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—JP Morgan’s record fine, Argentina’s cabinet reshuffle, workplace tooth brushing

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What to watch for today

Inflation falls in the US. Analysts expect headline inflation in the US fell to around 1% during October in yet another soft reading for the consumer price index. Lower inflation takes the US Federal Reserve further away from its plans to wind down its stimulus of the US economy.

Rupert Murdoch nears divorce. The media mogul and his third wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, are expected to appear in a Manhattan court this morning for a divorce hearing (paywall.) Although they signed three nuptial agreements, the couple still ran into issues over custody of their daughters and dividing of their residences.

JC Penney’s profit progress. A few weeks ago, troubled US retailer JC Penney released a progress report of its turnaround, saying same-store sales rose in October—but this was mainly due to leftover inventory that the retailer sold on the cheap. Investors will be watching JC Penney’s profits to see if the company really is returning to health.

Deere’s drop in sales. The US farm machinery maker is set to post a drop in revenue for its fourth quarter on the back of fewer orders of its tractors, due in part to weak prices for corn, soybeans and other agricultural commodities. Full-year profits, however, are forecast by analysts to rise some 15% from last year to $3.47 billion.

Marriage equality in Illinois. When Governor Pat Quinn signs the same-sex marriage bill into law today, Illinois will become the 15th US state to legalize gay marriage. The law doesn’t come into effect until June 2014, by which time more than one-third of Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal.

While you were sleeping

JP Morgan agreed to a record fine. The giant US bank agreed to hand over $13 billion in fines for making “serious misrepresentations to the public” during the housing crisis, in a landmark settlement with the US Department of Justice. Around $4 billion of the total will go directly to homeowners affected by JP Morgan’s actions.

Johnson & Johnson decided to fork out too. The US company agreed to pay at least $2.5 billion to settle around 8,000 lawsuits from people claiming injuries from its artificial hips. That’s a payout of $250,000 to each claimant, plus almost half a billion dollars for extra medical costs.

Suicide bombs blasted Beirut. At least 23 people were killed when a pair of suicide bombs detonated outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, leaving another 147 wounded. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Sunni jihadist group linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attacks, calling for Iran to stop backing Hezbollah.

Argentina’s cabinet stayed firmly to the left. Cristina Fernandez, the president of Argentina who recently returned to office after recovering from an early-October operation, announced a cabinet reshuffle that promoted leftist economist Axel Kicillof to economy minister—dashing hopes that Fernandez might pursue more moderate policies (paywall) to tackle soaring inflation.

Nokia welcomed Microsoft aboard. Nokia’s shareholders representing 99% of the Finnish company’s stock voted in favor of selling its loss-making cellphone business to Microsoft for $7.4 billion. Nokia, whose shares have doubled since the Microsoft deal was announced, will now get most of its revenue from its services and network division.

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on the delay to America’s plans to run its cars on biofuels. “So what happened? The short answer is that making biofuels, particularly the cellulosic sort, is proving to be much harder than entrepreneurs, investors, and not least of all, the government expected. Engineering enzymes to break down tough plant fiber into feedstock that can be used to make substitutes for gasoline and jet fuel has been slow going, and investors burned by the Great Recession have been reluctant to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into building biofuel refineries.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’s not sanctions that have brought Iran to the negotiating table. Tehran offered similar measures in 2005, when it wasn’t under crippling embargoes (paywall).

DropBox’s reported $8 billion valuation is problematic. It’s too easy for consumers to switch to the online storage startup’s competitors.

Abenomics isn’t helping Japan. It successfully spurred the yen to depreciate, but that’s better news for the countries that sell to Japan.

Brushing your teeth at work has benefits that go way beyond dental health. But don’t do it right after eating, and hunt around for an empty bathroom.

Surprising discoveries

Most money is unaccounted for. The Federal Reserve knows where only 15% of dollars in circulation are—the bulk of the rest are likely outside the US.

You can IPO yourself. Several programs give you a cash injection now in return for a proportion of your future earnings.

Brazil declared a state of emergency this week because of an adorable little caterpillar. A Helicoverpa caterpillar infestation has caused billions of dollars in damage to the country’s crops.

Turkey is cheaper in the US during November. The drop in frozen whole-turkey prices as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches seems to defy economic theories about supply and demand (paywall).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, workplace dental hygiene tips, and turkeynomic theories to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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