STAR WARS

Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—BoE decision, US-India tit-for-tat, China inflation, Velveeta shortage

What to watch for today

A big solar flare hits Earth. A spike in radiation may expand the aurora borealis as far south as Colorado and central Illinois in the United States, and disrupt GPS and other satellites services.

Mark Carney’s dilemma. Though fourth-quarter unemployment almost certainly fell to 7%—the level at which the Bank of England said it would consider raising rates—the economy appears to be softening. Market consensus is that the BoE will hold firm.

Greek unemployment data. Figures yesterday showed euro zone unemployment remains high, and today’s numbers from hard-hit Greece will reveal whether October’s jobless rate rose even higher than September’s 27.4% (pdf).

Family Dollar’s earnings. The performance of the discount store, sometimes read as an indicator of consumer sentiment, has not been great recently.

While you were sleeping

China’s inflation slowed. December inflation was 2.5%, down from 3% the previous month. That puts the overall 2013 rate well below Beijing’s 3.5% target, which could give policymakers room to implement reforms.

South Korea held steady on interest rates. As expected, the country’s central bank kept its rate unchanged at 2.5% and maintained its 2014 economic growth forecast of 3.8%.

US-India tit-for-tat escalates. In the most serious repercussion yet following the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz won’t be visiting Delhi as planned next week.

Iran nuclear talks hit a snag. Nuclear negotiations between the country and six world powers are threatened by disagreements over its advanced centrifuge research.

Danone cries over spilt milk. The yogurt maker is seeking compensation for some $407 million it lost when New Zealand dairy exporter Fonterra issued a recall last year over potentially tainted milk powders.

H5N1 caused its first death in North America. A resident of Alberta, Canada, died of the H5N1 bird flu virus after returning from a trip to China.

Contagion in the Central African Republic. Amid rumors of President Michel Djotodia’s imminent resignation, a deadly case of measles swept a camp of internally displaced people in the capital, Bangui.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how billions of dollars in secret cash are smuggled into China. “[Exports] are not vanishing into a wormhole. They never existed in the first place. In the first half of 2013 alone, nearly $100 billion sneaked into China in the form of faked export invoices, according to research by non-profit Global Financial Integrity… Where’s all this money coming from? It probably has something to do with the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The WTO demonstrators were right. Mocked for the 1999 Seattle protests, the anti-globalization organizers’ concerns were actually spot-on.

The world economy is mostly back on track. But the looming global problems are political in nature, says George Soros.

GM-free Cheerios are a marketing stunt. The cereal is made mainly from oats, notes Monsanto, which are not genetically modified.

Stop whining about Uber’s price gouging. Don’t ask the government for help: Just stop using the luxury service.

Surprising discoveries

The first close-up of a distant exoplanet… The Gemini Planet Imager in Chile snapped an image of a planet that’s several times larger than Jupiter and more than 63 light years from Earth.

…and a possibly dangerous asteroid. NASA spotted a 0.4 mile-wide asteroid that could come perilously close to Earth, but not within the next century.

The coming “cheesepocalypse.” Americans are eating so much Velveeta there’s a shortage. Meanwhile, their butter consumption is at a 40-year high.

Reddit has a gun marketplace. Nearly 100 AR-15s sold through the popular online forum have been engraved with the Reddit alien logo.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Velveeta stockpiles, and images of faraway exoplanets to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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