Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Twitter results, Ukraine truce, new bird flu, ice vs. pickle juice

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What to watch for today

The euro zone’s not-so-green shoots. Last month the region posted record gains in retail sales. But today’s release comes after a round of depressing economic figures and a dour business outlook.

Twitter lifts the veil with its first earnings report since listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Analysts expect a fourth-quarter loss of $0.02 per share on revenues of $217.8 million as they look closely at ad revenue and active user growth; tweet questions for the earnings call to @TwitterIR.

A shaky truce in Ukraine. President Viktor Yanukovych’s supporters and opposition MPs have until Wednesday morning local time to agree on Ukraine’s political make-up. Anti-government protestors are calling for a return to the 2004 constitution, moving some powers back from the president to parliament.

Indonesia’s slowing growth story. After a tough year for Indonesia, with inflation doubling to 8.4% and the rupiah sinking to fresh lows, analysts expect that the economy will have expanded by around 5.3% in 2013, down from 6.2% the year before. However, a string of impressive recent data suggests all is not lost.

While you were sleeping

Two mortgage settlements forward, one back. Morgan Stanley agreed to shell out $1.25 billion for selling faulty mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and JP Morgan agreed to pay $614 million for underwriting sub-standard mortgage loans. Meanwhile, an $8.5 billion Bank of America mortgage settlement was put on hold by a New York state judge.

There’s a new bird flu in town. H10N8, only the fifth new influenza strain in the last 17 years, has killed one woman in southeastern China and sickened another after jumping the species barrier to humans.

Sony looks to shed its PC business. The company is in talks with investment fund Japan Industrial Partners to offload Vaio, its loss-making personal computer brand, for somewhere between 40 and 50 billion yen ($391-489 million).

Puerto Rico got junked. Recent austerity measures by lawmakers weren’t enough to prevent Standard & Poor’s cutting the island’s credit rating to the “speculative” (i.e. junk) grade of BB+. Moody’s and Fitch are also contemplating downgrades.

Russian oligarchs squared off. Leonid Lebedev filed a $2 billion US lawsuit (paywall) against Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, claiming a right to some of the $13.8 billion profit they made last year by selling their stake in BP-TNK to Russian state oil giant Rosneft.

The ex-Googler-in-Chief got his payout. Ex-CEO and current executive chairman Eric Schmidt was granted $100 million in restricted stock (paywall), plus a $6 million cash cushion, “in recognition of his contributions to Google’s performance in fiscal year 2013.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on how the sell-off in emerging markets could hurt their banks. “Because emerging-market companies have been able to borrow so cheaply from foreign lenders, domestic banks had to find other customers. In other words, they had to lower their lending standards. A sharp run up in interest rates—which happens when central banks try to fight the currency slump by raising interest rates—could expose just how weak some of those borrowers were.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Obamacare discourages work—and that’s (mostly) a good thing. Delinking jobs from health insurance means that some people will choose to work less.

“Emerging markets” are meaningless. It makes no sense to lump struggling nations like Turkey and strong countries such as Hungary into the same bucket.

Saving for a comfortable retirement is hopeless. You’d have to save for 110 years to get a sufficiently large nest egg.

Technology is undercutting the case for immigration reform. If robots take over the low-skilled jobs, where does that leave immigrant workers?

Surprising discoveries

Online searches for Quaaludes have spiked. That’s the power of The Wolf of Wall Street.

The S&P 500 will have 501 members. Just temporarily, due to Google’s stock split (paywall).

The US exonerated a record number of convicts last year. In a third of cases, no crime was ever committed.

There are only four emotions. Not the previously accepted six; gone are the distinctions between anger and disgust, and fear and surprise.

Americans are the biggest gambling losers. Although, per capita, Australians punters lose the most by a long shot.

Icy weather’s garlicky nemesis. The eco-friendly efficacy of pickle brine.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Quaaludes, and new emotional shadings to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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