Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ukraine truce fails, digesting Facebook-WhatsApp, Peltz vs. PepsiCo, US clown shortage

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What to watch for today

Investors digest Facebook’s pricey acquisition. More than half the companies in the S&P 500 index have market capitalizations that are less than WhatsApp’s $19 billion sticker price. Facebook shares dipped 5% then recovered slightly in overnight trading, after hitting a record high before the deal was announced.

Nelson Peltz vs. PepsiCo. The activist investor’s Trian Fund Management has renewed its campaign to split up the company’s food and snacks divisions (paywall). 

Walmart ends the year on a disappointing note. Walmart already cut its full-year guidance and could still miss lowered fourth-quarter estimates. Emerging markets haven’t been kind to Walmart; 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 footing, with its major divisions—printing and enterprise hardware—showing momentum.

While you were sleeping

Ukraine’s truce fails. A brief ceasefire ended as protesters regained control of Independence Square, with reports of multiple people killed. The violence halted talks between president Viktor Yanukovich and officials from the EU, which is considering sanctions.

Nigerian central banker suspended. Nigeria’s president replaced the country’s central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, amid claims and counter-claims over $20 billion of state oil revenues that have apparently gone missing.

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.

Euro zone manufacturing unexpectedly slowed. Europe’s flash PMI dropped slightly to 52.7, confounding analyst expectations of an increase. As usual, Germany’s economy showed signs of strength, and France grew weaker.

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

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

The speed of global warming is 3.5 feet (1.1 meters) a day. That’s how fast temperature change is sweeping across the Earth’s ecosystems.

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

Russia’s lingerie trade war. A new law bans the import and sale of underwear that is less than 6% cotton—and it has many women’s “knickers in a twist.”

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.

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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