Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Russia-US talks redux, India elections, Cerberus-Safeway, Mongolian ninja turtles

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What to watch for today

Mario Draghi hints at his next steps. The European Central Bank’s main interest rate is expected to remain at 0.25%, but the ECB president could shed light on plans to tackle inflation and unemployment, along with measures to boost private investment.

A tetchy US-Russia follow-up meeting. US secretary of state John Kerry meets Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss Ukraine for the second time, this time in Rome. Meanwhile, US congressional leaders vote on sanctions against Russia, and EU leaders in Brussels consider sanctions of their own.

Costco’s cold-weather report. Analysts expect the US retailer to post a 6% rise in earnings per share, on 7% higher revenues. Investors will also be looking to see how Costco is toughing out the exceptionally cold winter.

While you were sleeping

India set election dates. The world’s biggest democracy will begin voting on April 7 and continue through May 12. Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in the polls, but isn’t expected to win an outright majority.

IBM workers went on strike in China. More than 1,000 employees in Shenzhen demanded higher wages for those who stay on when ownership of their plant is transferred to Lenovo later this year, as well as better redundancy packages for those who don’t.

Singapore opened an investigation into the death of Autumn Radtke. The 28-year-old CEO of the bitcoin exchange First Meta was found dead in her apartment late last month.

China’s railways opened to investors. State-owned China Railway Corporation will be one of the country’s first SOEs to accept private capital. It plans to spend $100 billion on expansion this year.

Emerging market growth slowed for third straight month. HSBC’s PMI for emerging markets fell to 51.1 in February, weighed down by weak manufacturing in Russia and China.

Sbarro began bankruptcy preparations. The pizza chain is set to file for Chapter 11 protection next week (paywall), and is working on a plan to streamline its trip through bankruptcy court.

Cerberus’ bid for Safeway got complicated. The private-equity firm’s $9 billion-plus supermarket buyout hit a snag (paywall) after Kroger made a rival bid.

Ford sales exploded in China, growing 67% in February to 73,00 vehicles in the world’s largest automobile market.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how Facebook and WhatsApp have killed Europe’s chat apps. “WhatsApp’s growth has come at the expense of native European social networks. According to research from GlobalWebIndex cited by Macquarie Equities today, some of Europe’s original social networks experienced sharp drops in active user numbers in the last six months of 2013, due to the growth in chat apps such as WhatsApp, and of course the relentless spread of Facebook.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Putin isn’t crazy, he’s on a mission. The Russian president wants a Russia-dependent Crimea.

The Fed’s super-easy monetary policy is working. Just look at auto and home sales.

Workers see their bosses as parent figures. We learn how to deal with other people at home, and struggle to keep those emotions out of the workplace (paywall).

Travelers should welcome carry-on airline fees. Less overstuffing will lead to boarding planes more painlessly.

Surprising discoveries

95% of fish are hiding from us. So-called mesopelagic fish live 100 to 1000 meters (328 to 3280 feet) below the surface, where they can avoid birds and fishermen’s nets.

We are 93% stardust. The rest of us is derived from the Big Bang.

This company wants to get more women into Silicon Valley. But not as entrepreneurs—as dates for all the single men.

Ninja miners are messing with Mongolia’s gold. They carry green bowls on their back, resembling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (paywall).

Indian men don’t do housework. Japanese, Korean and Turkish men rank nearly as badly.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hidden fish, and ninja turtles to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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