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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US jobs, China trade, Indian diplomat departs, Congressional millionaires

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

The US jobs report. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data for December, and while the 7% unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged, there are plenty of other important numbers to watch for.

EU referendum debate in the UK. The House of Lords is set to discuss a bill that would permit a 2017 vote on the status of the country’s European Union membership.

Celebrating Latvia’s euro entry. Top European officials visit Riga to welcome the country to the single currency. Only 20% of citizens supported the move, but Latvia will be the fastest-growing of the bloc’s 18 economies, making it a poster child for austerity.

CES winds down. The Consumer Electronics Show wraps up in Las Vegas after a week that 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

Infosys turned it around. The troubled Indian IT giant raised earnings guidance and cut staff as part of a transformation spurred by the return of founder N.R. Narayana Murthy last year.

Germany’s AAA rating confirmed. Standard & Poor’s maintained its outlook on the country’s blue-chip rating, saying the German economy is “highly diversified and competitive.”

French industrial production rose. Production advanced 1.3% in November, more than analysts expected, after declining 0.5% the previous month.

Kenya hit Somali militants. Kenya’s military said it killed some 30 Islamist militants in an air strike on a camp in Somalia near the border with Ethiopia.

An Indian diplomat left the US. Devyani Khobragade, the focus of dissension between Washington and New Delhi after she was arrested for underpaying her housekeeper, was granted diplomatic immunity, indicted for visa fraud, and asked to leave the US. The attempt at a compromise may not placate Indians who are irate at how Khobragade was treated.

China overtakes US in trade. Beijing said exports increased by a less-than-expected 4.3% in December, while imports beat expectations by jumping 8.3%, pushing its 2013 total to $4.16 trillion—almost certainly higher than the US (paywall), for the first time ever. But as Quartz has reported, the accuracy of Chinese trade data is questionable.

Philippines exports rose. Despite Typhoon Haiyan hitting the country in November, exports advanced 18.9% from a year earlier, beating estimates.

Australian new home sales skyrocketed at the fastest pace in four years in November, up 7.5% from the previous month, suggesting that low interest rates are helping the country’s economic recovery.

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

B.K.S. Iyengar deserves a Nobel Peace prize. The great Indian yoga guru has done more than anyone alive to promote the power of peace.

Women face an education penalty. Better educated women suffer stiffer career consequences when they get married and have children. 

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

A bee deficit is killing Europe’s buzz. Not only are honeybees dying off, wild pollinators like bumblebees are at risk, too.

Surprising discoveries

Pizza Hut’s lucrative XBox 360 app. The company sold $1 million in pies during the first four months its online delivery app was live.

Prairie dogs do the wave. The rodents appear to use synchronized bobbing to tell one another they’re safe from predators.

Most members of Congress are millionaires. For the first time in history, a majority of congressmen and senators have an average net worth of at least $1 million.

Our brains have limited space for friends. When we make new close friends, cognitive demands mean we’re forced to relegate other pals to lesser status.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, prairie dog communication techniques, and Xbox pizza to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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