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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Emerging markets rout, Apple results, Google’s AI buy, Lean In: The Movie

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

The emerging market rout continues. Asian shares took a beating and European markets are down in the wake of the Argentinian peso’s crash on Friday. But it’s worth remembering that not all emerging markets are alike.

Apple at the crossroads? Investors will scrutinize the holiday sales trends for high-margin iPhones and iPads, but more broadly the question is whether the company’s quarterly results will be seen as “a shift to sustainable growth, a pause before the next big thing, or the end of a high-flying era.”

A US-China drilling expedition in the South China Sea. If a jointly-funded science trip finds evidence of new oil and gas reserves, it may add to tensions between the US, China, and its neighbors in the contested waters of southeast Asia.

A possible state of emergency in Ukraine. The country’s justice minister warned anti-government protesters occupying her ministry that she will call for stricter measures unless they leave.

Over the weekend

AT&T swore off Vodafone, telling UK regulators that it would not bid for its European counterpart for at least six months, sending Vodafone shares down 6%. Meanwhile, Vodafone is reportedly in talks to acquire Spanish cable operator ONO.

German business morale is gut. The Ifo think tank’s business climate index rose for a third straight month, adding to evidence that Europe’s biggest economy is poised for growth in 2014.

Moody’s slashed Sony’s credit to junk, down one notch, due to concerns about its struggling PC and TV business (paywall).

Liberty Global bought into Dutch cable TV. The media conglomerate agreed to buy the remaining 71.5% of Ziggo, valuing the biggest cable TV company in the Netherlands at about $13.7 billion.

The weak yen fueled Japan’s record trade deficit. December exports rose 15.3%, but they weren’t enough to counteract higher imported fuel costs due to the weaker Japanese currency and the country’s shift away from nuclear power, resulting in a deficit of 1.3 trillion yen ($12.7 billion).

Google bought an artificial intelligence company. The company’s push into smart machines (from cars to robots to thermostats) took another step forward with the $400 million purchase of UK-based DeepMind, a secretive firm that develops “learning algorithms.”

China’s moon rover faltered. “Jade Rabbit” suffered a “mechanical control abnormality,” according to a state media report, which “quoted” the rover as saying, “I know I might not be able to make it through this lunar night … I am not fearful.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how the web domain name for Colombia became the hot address for tech startups. “People went to .co because, on .com, with over 111 million registrations, the short, simple names are mostly taken. They went also because .co is one letter shorter than .com, which matters in the age of Twitter. But most of all, they went because some very canny marketing convinced them that it’s where sexy, innovative start-ups go.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Europe needs more inflation. Stagnant prices are holding back the recovery (paywall) in countries like Spain and Italy.

Why you should boycott the Super Bowl. America’s veneration of a brutal blood sport has blinded fans to its dark side.

The World Economic Forum is still an old boys’ club. Misogyny is a daily experience for women, who accounted for just 15% of Davos attendees.

Higher education has lost its backbone. Encouraging students to focus on one college major limits the broad spectrum of knowledge they should be pursuing.

Sherlock Holmes isn’t that impressive. He makes for good entertainment, but Holmes’ detective work doesn’t stand up to real-life scrutiny.

Surprising discoveries

“Lean In,” the movie. Sony has optioned Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for working women.

Birds of peace attacked. Doves released for the Pope in Rome were promptly set upon by an aggressive seagull and a large black crow.

Cocaine has lost its allure. But the cyclical nature of drug trends suggests it could well come back again.

Black holes leak. Stephen Hawking’s new theory suggests there are ways for light to escape from space’s no-way-out singularities.

Inoculate yourself against the viral web. A browser plug-in called Downworthy translates infectious headlines into more mundane alternatives.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space-time theories and non-viral headlines to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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