Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Iran talks restart, US inflation, UK mortgages, smuggling gold in airline toilets

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What to watch for today

Iran nuclear talks restart. Global powers meet in Geneva to try yet again to secure a deal with Iran to halt its nuclear program. President Obama, meanwhile, has appealed to senators to delay seeking sanctions against the country while the negotiations are ongoing.

Inflation falls in the US. Analysts expect that consumer prices fell to around 1% in October, which would take 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. Despite three nuptial agreements, the couple still ran into issues over custody of their daughters and dividing their residences.

JC Penney’s profit progress. The troubled US retailer’s same-store sales rose in October, mainly due to leftover inventory that the retailer sold on the cheap. Investors will be watching quarterly 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, due in part to weak prices for corn, soybeans and other agricultural commodities. Full-year profits are forecast to rise some 15% from last year to $3.47 billion.

Marriage equality in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn’s signature will make Illinois 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 in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

While you were sleeping

The US ambassador to China is stepping down. Former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will give up his post ahead of schedule next year, citing a desire for his kids to finish high school in the US.

The UK mortgage market is going gangbusters. October mortgage lending rose 37% year-on-year to £17.6 billion ($2.84 billion), according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which said that “housing activity is set to strengthen further in the short-term.”

iPhone camera-maker plans a Hong Kong IPO. Korea’s Cowell e Holdings, which supplies mobile camera modules to many companies including Samsung and Apple, could raise up to $250 million in a listing next year.

North Korea may be holding another US citizen. The Kyodo News Service reported that Pyongyang last month detained an elderly US man who entered the country on a tourist visa; US officials said they couldn’t confirm the report. The country has been holding American missionary Kenneth Bae since November, 2012.

Japan’s trade deficit widened, nearly doubling in October as higher exports were outpaced by soaring costs for imported oil and natural gas, which the country needs following its nuclear industry shutdown.

Nissan is increasing production of Leafs in the US. The automaker’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant will build more of its all-electric cars due to increased demand following price cuts.

US-Afghanistan security pact in doubt. The Afghan government wants a letter from President Obama apologizing for American mistakes, which the US says is “not on the table.”

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

You should watch TV in public. The rise of viewing parties in bars offers a great chance to meet fellow fans.

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.

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

O.J. Simpson epitomized the mortgage crisis. The former football star got a loan despite a huge pending court judgement against him, by writing a letter to the bank saying “I didn’t do it.”

Throwing $1 million of gold down the toilet. Cleaners found 24 gold bars in the toilet of a Jet Airways plane that landed in Kolkata, India, after a flight from Patna. India’s import duties were recently hiked, and smugglers are suspected.

Vancouver is banning doorknobs. The city’s new building code means the old fashioned devices are being phased out in favor of easier-to-use levers.

Our bodies know when we’re supposed to wake up. When we sleep according to regular schedules, our bodies create stress hormones that begin rousing us ahead of our alarms.

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

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hiding places for gold bars, and self-IPO proposals to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.


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