Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Lenovo-IBM deal, China’s factories shrink, Icahn gets busy, Aristotle goes viral

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What to watch for today

A Lenovo-IBM deal. The companies are close to announcing a multibillion-dollar deal for China-based Lenovo to buy IBM’s low-end server business—but a US national security review could delay the acquisition or even scuttle it entirely.

Spain re-emerges from purgatory. The country exits its European bailout after 18 months, freeing it up to borrow money on the bond markets again. Though its economy remains shaky, Spain has spurned a precautionary credit line.   

Existing home sales in the US for December, a particularly bad month for jobs growth, will be closely watched after home sales showed a sharp decline in November.

Reading the tea leaves on Starbucks. Analysts expect weak growth in the Americas to counter-balance expansion elsewhere, and will be looking for insight into its worryingly complex mix of products. McDonald’s and Microsoft also served up quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

China’s factory output is shrinking. The flash HSBC purchasing managers’ index for January slipped to 49.6, below the critical 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

South Korea GDP weakensFourth-quarter economic output slowed to 0.9% from 1.1% in Q3 due to slower construction spending, even as exports rose.

Foxconn kickback scandal. Several former employees were indicted by Taiwanese officials for taking bribes from other partners in the supply chain, after an internal audit uncovered irregularities.

Syria talks started off badly. The speechifying to launch negotiations between the Syrian regime and opposition began with bitter recriminations. The talks proper don’t begin until Friday, however, so this may have just been the equivalent of sumo wrestlers stamping before a bout.

Carl Icahn’s been a busy bee. The well-known activist investor bought half a billion dollars of Apple shares, which he called a “no-brainer.” Meanwhile eBay revealed that he has acquired a 0.82% stake, nominated two employees to the board, and is urging it to spin off PayPal.

Netflix spiked. Thumbing its nose yet again at Wall Street doubters, the video streaming firm posted 2.33 million new users in the US and another 1.7 million elsewhere. It also said it would “vigorously protest” any changes in regulation following a recent court ruling against “net neutrality.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani and David Yanofsky on the looming rush for new internet domain names. ”The coming deluge of new domains… will affect everybody who uses the web. What’s less certain is whether it is strictly necessary. Proponents argue that it will benefit people and businesses (small ones especially) by giving them more addresses to choose from. Critics call it a massive land grab by both entrepreneurs and some of the world’s most powerful internet companies..” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Predicting the best asset class of the year is a mug’s game. And people keep playing it, though it probably loses them vast amounts of money.

Something weird is going on with Obamacare. The millions of Americans without health insurance aren’t signing up for it nearly as eagerly as they should be.

India has had a lost decade. And it’s entirely prime minister Manmohan Singh’s fault.

Surprising discoveries

Take a placebo nap. You don’t have to sleep well to feel rested—you just have to think that you did.

Aristotle would have been a web genius. The Greek philosopher knew how to make things go viral: ethos, pathos, and logos.

Sloths aren’t just lazy, they’re gross. Poop-eating moths live and die in their fur, creating an “algae garden” that sloths find delicious.

The Vikings were just like us. The social networks in Norse sagas are quite similar to those of today.

Another step towards the bionic body. A Harvard spin-off company is testing man-made tracheas.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, placebo nap prescriptions and sloth hygiene tips to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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