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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Malaysia Airlines clues, banana mega-merger, KY sale, banning “bossy”

What to watch for today

The search continues for flight MH370. Authorities may have located some debris from the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing in the Gulf of Thailand this weekend. Four passengers reportedly boarded using stolen passports, and there were several warnings of possible terrorist attacks in Beijing last week.

Europe’s banks better start saving. Five of Europe’s biggest lenders could face an extra €10 billion ($13.8 billion) in legal costs (paywall) to deal with allegations of foreign exchange manipulation—more than the payouts from the Libor scandal so far.

US consumer spending nudges upward. Expect a 0.3% rise in personal income in January and a 0.1% climb in personal spending.

Transatlantic trade gets a boost. The EU and the US meet for the fourth round of negotiations in Washington, DC, aiming to create jobs and boost the economic recovery by encouraging commerce between the two blocs.

Over the weekend

A mega-banana merger. The new firm ChiquitaFyffes will combine North America’s and Europe’s biggest banana distributors—even as a tenacious banana plague slowly creeps across the globe.

J&J sold off KY. The water-soluble jelly, which was once used for surgery but later became popular as a sexual lubricant, was purchased by Reckitt Benkiser for an undisclosed sum.

Spain’s industrial output grew for the third month running, increasing by 1.1% in January.

Japan’s revised GDP growth slowed to 0.7% in the fourth quarter, from 1.1% in the third quarter. The country also posted a record current account deficit of $15.4 billion.

China posted a $23 billion trade deficit. Exports fell 18.1% in February, surprising analysts that expected a 6.8% rise in exports and a trade surplus of $14.5 billion.

Tencent bought a stake in JD.com. The $215 million deal created an alliance between Tencent, the owner of the popular messaging app WeChat, and JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce company, in their battle against online retail giant Alibaba Group.

Boeing discovered Dreamliner defects. The company is looking for hairline cracks in the Mitsubishi-made wings of 43 of its jets, none of which have been delivered to clients. Separately, a Japan Airlines Dreamliner made an emergency landing in Honolulu after developing engine problems.

Russia ramped up pressure. Russian forces tightened their grip over Crimea, surrounding their 11th Ukrainian base in 10 days and offering to hand over 40 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) in financial support if Crimea votes to join Russia. The US won’t recognize next weekend’s succession referendum, which Angela Merkel said was illegal.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on Deutsche Telekom’s change of heart. “Speculation has been rife for months that T-Mobile, the smallest of America’s four wireless carriers, which almost merged with AT&T in 2011, could soon be bought out by Sprint, which is owned by Japan’s Softbank. That would give Deutsche Telekom the exit it has long desired. But over the past year things have changed pretty dramatically for T-Mobile, and suddenly the messages coming out of Deutsche Telekom sound different.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’s time to fix black boxes. Transmitting information instantly and continuously to the cloud is an obvious step toward safer flights.

Ban the word “bossy.” The b-word is mainly used to describe confident young women (paywall).

Solving inequality will be the biggest issue for democracies. Technology is both the cause and the solution.

The future of TV is online. Top content that’s cheaper than cable, multi-device friendly and personally organized? Sign us up.

Surprising discoveries

A dead tree renaissance. Paper companies are outperforming the S&P 500 thanks to luxury stationery and photo books (paywall).

MIT researchers want to translate Shakespeare into GIFs. They’re making a database of emotions.

The yakuza is losing members. Japan’s organized crime ranks are at their thinnest in more than 20 years.

Fitness trackers aren’t great at counting calories, and other lessons from wearing four at once.

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