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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—TNK-BP deal, Spanish election, London bankers, balloons

  • Kevin J. Delaney
By Kevin J. Delaney

Founding editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The UK’s BP may announce the sale of its 50% stake in TNK-BP, Russia’s third-largest oil company, to state-controlled Rosneft for as much as $27 billion. The deal was widely predicted to be announced today. BP has said no agreement has yet been reached, though the FT (paywall) reports we can expect it very soon. The BBC’s Robert Peston, who is often spot on, believes Vladimir Putin will need to approve the transaction. The sell-off would end a bitter and, for BP, sometimes frightening, 14-year partnership with four Russian oligarchs. Now the oligarchs themselves will have to figure out how to deal with a new partner not as easy manipulated as BP: the Russian state.

US presidential candidates’ third debate. Foreign policy is on the agenda for the final debate between Republican contender Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. The race is close, with the candidates tied at 47%, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll, released 16 days before the election. The separate RealClearPolitics average of national polls now has Obama ahead by 0.2 percentage points. The New York Times’ election blog gives Obama a 67.6% chance of winning the deciding electoral college tally.

Caterpillar reports third-quarter earnings. The US construction equipment maker’s sales are tied to some of the critical sectors of global growth: construction, mining, and energy. CEO Doug Oberhelman last month told investors that Caterpillar expects continued weak economic growth in 2013—and the analyst conference call today should provide color on the outlook for the world economy, including the impact of China’s slowdown on the natural resources sector.

Discussions between the Canadian government and Malaysian state oil company Petronas. Canada blocked Petronas’s $5.2 billion deal to buy Progress Energy Resources late Friday. But Petronas and Progress still have 30 days from Friday to convince Canada to reconsider, and the government says discussions are underway. The Malaysian firm needs to prove the deal provides a so-called “net benefit” to Canada. The Petronas deal is seen as a key indicator of the fate of the $15.1 billion agreement by China’s Cnooc to buy Canada’s Nexen. But how much impact it has is debatable. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a fan of Chinese investment.

While you were sleeping

Australia’s treasury insisted it could maintain the nation’s surplus in its mid-year budget. As Australia relies heavily on selling commodities to China, some economists have warned that the ruling Labor Party’s financial projections seem optimistic.

Japan’s exports fell 10.3% in September from a year earlier, on sharp drops in trade with China and Europe. Exports to China fell 14.1% amid an ongoing diplomatic spat between the two countries, and shipments to Europe dropped 21.1%.

Spain’s ruling party won a key regional election. The People’s Party triumph in Galicia eases pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he pursues a policy of austerity and tax increases.

Fidel Castro insisted he is in good health. In response to rumors that churned all last week that he was dead, or nearly so, the 86-year-old former Cuban leader apparently moved to quash them by writing an article on a state-run website, which also published a photo of him that seemed recent. He also condemned what he called international media “lies” about his health. No official images have been released of him since March.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the 10 indicators you should watch to predict the geopolitics of energy: “Everything we see today—price swings, energy gluts and droughts, wars over oil, environmental disasters, races to find new technologies—has been happening in some form or other for the past century and a half. But not all events in energy’s history have had geopolitical impact. In order to cut away the underbrush and irrelevant trees, we require a set of indicators, guideposts to a potential geopolitical disruption.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Students should be required to chew gum in school. Doing so three to five times a day could cut the incidence of cavities.

Writers are twice as likely to commit suicide. Accountants and their relatives are at no greater risk for suicide and other mental illnesses.

Latin America’s skies are the least safe. The region’s record improved this year, but pilot error and mechanical problems are still an issue.

Surprising discoveries

London bankers are humbled and insecure. The Square Mile is now a scene of “sackings, stress and suicide” according to this report.

South Korea has banned balloons that North Korean defectors, living in the South, have been tying propaganda leaflets to and attempting to launch over the North Korean border. Seoul fears military reprisals from Pyongyang.

Ayn Rand outsells Karl Marx in India by 16 to 1. Indians are purer in their Randophilia than Americans are—or at least, understand Rand’s philosophy better.

Mobile news this week and next

Apple is expected to announce a smaller iPad “Mini” Tuesday, while Microsoft and Google will unveil new smartphones and tablets running their latest software on Oct. 29.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, thoughts on multinationals paying minimal tax in Britain, or favorite Rand and Marx passages to hi@qz.com or hit “Reply” to this email.

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