Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—US jobs, Qantas’s downgrade, bee deficits, kimchi names

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What to watch for today

The US jobs report. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shares unemployment data for December. The 7% unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged, but there are plenty of other important numbers to watch for, and 2013 is expected to show the biggest annual jobs gain since the recession.

A celebration for Latvia joining the euro. Top European officials visit Riga to welcome it to the single currency, which it joined on Jan. 1. Only 20% of Latvians supported joining the euro, but Latvia will be the fastest-growing of the euro zone’s 18 economies and some see this as proof the years of austerity were worth it.

CES winds down. The mammoth Consumer Electronics Show wraps up in Las Vegas after a week of presentations and workshops. The show has featured everything from a Michael Bay meltdown to ambitious Google Glass competitors and several weird gadgets you will probably never use.

While you were sleeping

China’s troubles weighed on Brazil. Ibovespa, Brazil’s largest stock exchange, shed 2.5% to 49,321.68, its lowest close since August. Slowing growth in China, Brazil’s biggest trade partner, is trickling over to Latin America’s largest economy.

Audi flexed its muscles. The German automaker reported an 8,3% uptick in sales in 2013, on healthy demand for its A3 sedan and SUV vehicles. The news is a good omen for parent company Volkswagen’s plan to take over as the world’s biggest carmaker.

Qantas got a second junk downgrade. Moody’s followed the example of Standard & Poor’s by downgrading Qantas’s debt to non-investment grade. With two junk ratings, the already struggling Australian national airline will likely face higher borrowing costs.

The ECB kept the juice flowing. The European Central Bank said it will hold interest rates at 0.25%, in a signal that it thinks the euro zone still needs propping up. The ECB’s activist stance may be one reason why investors have exhibited a surprising thirst for high-risk European debt in the last few days.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how South Africa’s largest company went from apartheid mouthpiece to tech giant. “It might surprise you to learn that South Africa’s biggest corporation doesn’t mine the earth for diamonds, gold or silver. It doesn’t extract oil, or even produce beer. Rather, the biggest company headquartered on South African soil  is an internet company. And its remarkable history tells you as much about the country’s troubled past, as it does about its promising future.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Is bitcoin in danger of busting? The growth of bitcoin mining collective is a potential doomsday scenario for the digital currency. Then again, the response to suggests otherwise.

There’s a pot bubble building. Shares in marijuana companies are shooting upwards as investors pile in.

A huge bee deficit could threaten Europe. Not only are honeybees dying off, wild pollinators like bumblebees are at risk too.

You don’t need a fancy diet to eat healthily. In the face of mounting food anxiety, the basic principles of intuitive eating still hold.

Oil prices could fall and stay low for years. A lot of projections for US oil output may be way too bearish.

Surprising discoveries

A complete guide to Jewish surnames. Every one has a meaning or a story behind it.

Koreans really care about kimchi. Enough to tell other countries what they should call it.

A looming lion extinctionThey now occupy less than one percent of their historic range in West Africa.

The weirdest murder weapon ever. A man in Oklahoma was charged with murder by way of an “atomic wedgie.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, simple diet suggestions and alternative names for kimchi to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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