Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Facebook buys WhatsApp, China manufacturing, Ukraine ceasefire, US clown shortage

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What to watch for today

EU sanctions against Ukraine. At an emergency meeting, officials will vote on whether to impose sanctions on Ukraine due to “excessive force by the Ukrainian authorities” toward anti-government protestors. EU leaders said President Viktor Yanukovich would be safe from sanctions in the interest of ongoing dialogue.

War-torn families reunite in North Korea. Dozens of elderly South Koreans will cross the border for a long-awaited reunion with family members separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Walmart ends the year on a disappointing note. Walmart already cut its full-year guidance and could still miss lowered fourth-quarter estimates. It’s been a tough year for the retail chain in emerging markets, where it’s had to shut stores in Brazil and China.

Hewlett-Packard emerges from its losing streak. HP is expected to post its first earnings per share growth since 2010 after starting the year on a strong foot, with its major divisions—printing and enterprise hardware—showing strong momentum.

While you were sleeping

Facebook splurged on a messaging app. Facebook agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock—the social network’s largest acquisition yet. WhatsApp has rapidly acquired a huge global footprint (except in China), largely by eschewing advertising.

Toyota and Hitachi shelled out for raises. Two of Japan’s biggest companies say they will raise salaries in a win for prime minister Shinzo Abe’s battle against deflation. Separately, the country’s trade deficit hit a record 2.79 trillion yen ($27.3 billion) in January on higher energy imports.

China’s PMI sank further. The flash purchasing managers’ index  fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 in February, from 49.5 the previous month, as manufacturing contracted over the Lunar New Year.

Ukraine’s truce. President Viktor Yanukovych took to his website to announce ceasefire with the opposition after escalating violence in Kiev killed 26 people.  He said negotiations were underway “aimed at ending the bloodshed” and “stabilizing the situation in the country for the benefit of civil peace.”

Tesla’s earnings drove its stock to record high. The electric car maker’s fourth-quarter results soared past analysts’ expectations. Tesla said it delivered 22,477 cars in 2013 and predicted selling another 35,000 this year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Nick Stockton on how bitcoin could become the go-to currency for digital tipping. “A lot of the hype around Bitcoin involves the crazy, illegal, or mundane things you can buy with it. But the digital currency could come in handy for an old-fashioned practice: tipping. According to an informal survey of 1,000 Bitcoin users published last April, users ranked gifts and donations as their most frequent transactions. At 36%, these categories beat out illegal drugs, gambling and the catch-all ‘other legal goods.'” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Russia and Western Europe are at war over Ukraine. Russia is winning.

There’s more to life than GDP. Market economic output isn’t a necessary indicator of communal well-being.

American auto workers must have an inferiority complex. Why else would they reject unionization?

Surprising discoveries

Tax proceeds from pot are higher than expected. Colorado’s governor says annual revenue will be about $98 million, well above an intitial $70 million estimate.

We curse more on Twitter than we do in real life. Wednesday is peak swearing day.

The US is running a clown deficit. Clowning around just isn’t that cool anymore.

Chicago’s Minority Report. Its police force is closely monitoring a “heat list” of people it considers likely to get involved in crime.

A slang word is no longer welcome in Ghana’s parliament. Overuse of “tweaa,” expressing disapproval, was disrupting proceedings.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, 140-character curses, and clown resumes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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