Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—EU summit, China slows, currency manipulation

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

EU summit starts with great pomp but little circumstance. EU leaders begin a two-day meeting in Brussels, where they’re expected to discuss Greece, a potential Spanish bailout, and the role of a euro-wide banking supervisor and coordinated budget; they are not expected to make much progress, though.

Google and Microsoft report earnings. The world’s biggest search company and its biggest software company are expected to keep moving in opposite directions, as Google profits climb and Microsoft’s slide, reflecting the fates of their respective core technologies.

BP-Rosneft deal close to closing. The British oil giant is nearing an agreement to sell its 50% share in Russia’s third-biggest oil venture TNK-BP to state oil company Rosneft, ending the suffering of BP shareholders. The deal, reports Quartz’s Steve LeVine, would mean sweet revenge for Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s boss, in his long-running feud with the oligarchs who own the other half of TNK-BP and may now be forced to sell it to Rosneft on Sechin’s terms.

While you were sleeping

Yes, China is still slowing down. No, we still don’t know how badly. China’s GDP in the third quarter was up 7.4% from a year earlier, its slowest pace of expansion since the first quarter of 2009. This quarter’s performance was also slower than the second quarter’s 7.6% rise. But coming hot on the heels of better-than-expected industrial production and strong exports, this leaves plenty of scope for the usual heated discussion between bulls and bears on whether China’s economy is maturing and rebalancing towards a developed-world model, or hurtling towards disaster.

Might an EU banking supervisor be illegal? The EU’s top legal advisor says the pending plan for a eurozone banking regulator is outside the European Central Bank’s powers, according to a paper obtained by the FT, likely fueling continued German objections at the EU summit.

Violence is escalating in Syria. Rebels fighting the government now have advanced portable anti-aircraft weapons. The US government fears they could fall into the hands of anti-Western militias. The country’s business community, which has traditionally supported embattled President Bashar al-Assad, is having a really hard time too. And the Syrian government is now attacking rebels with cluster bombs, according to reports coming out of France and the Middle East.

The FBI helps a man conspire to blow up the New York Fed, then arrests him. Federal agents arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man after he tried to blow up a van outside the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan, at the denouement of an elaborate sting operation.

White House: We can’t prove Huawei has been spying either. An 18-month, mostly classified review of the Chinese networking giant ordered by the White House found no proof of espionage. A Congressional committee report last week warned the US not to trust Huawei and ZTE, another telecoms equipment maker, but likewise found no proof of skulduggery. However, both reports warn US telecom companies that Huawei’s gear contains potentially hackable vulnerabilities.

Quartz obsession interlude

Our obsession with the US elections is gearing up and counting down—19 days left until Americans vote. At the latest debate, Mitt Romney once again slammed China for “cheating” on its currency, but Quartz’s Tim Fernholz notes that those allegations are coming a few years late—the yuan has in fact steadily appreciated since 2005. “American politicians love bashing China for votes, of course, but currency manipulation isn’t the problem it once was.” Steve LeVine, meanwhile, reviews the candidates’ spat over gasoline prices. And about Romney’s “binders-full-of-women” comment that lit up the internet, Quartz contributor Vickie Elmer gets reaction from two businesswomen who… manufacture binders.

Matters of debate

It’s settled now: QE3 worked. Banks reporting earnings this week all noted one big bright spot on their balance sheets: mortgages are up, proof that banks are buying into incentives offered by the Federal Reserve to turn around housing markets. Quartz’s Matt Phillips is particularly gleeful.

A dangerous whiff of the US’s old tricks in Central America. The United States’ growing role in Honduras is hurting its Latin America policy, writes UC Santa Cruz professor Dana Frank.

Labeling China a currency manipulator disrupts (video) global markets. That’s according to PIMCO chief executive Mohamed El Erian, and comes as a warning to Mitt Romney.

Surprising discoveries

Vampires rule? Researchers found they could slow aging in older mice by injecting them with blood from their younger counterparts. Old mouse brains were for example rejuvenated, possibly because they absorbed younger stem cells.

Qatar is buying up Parisian banlieues. The gas-rich gulf nation sees an opportunity in the French capital’s poorest suburbs.

“8 crazy things Americans believe about foreign policy.” Well, maybe they’re not surprising, but they should be.

And a correction: In yesterday’s newsletter, we said that $25 billion worth of paintings had been stolen in Rotterdam. That was a typo; we meant $25 million.

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