Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—iPad Mini, borrowing for buybacks, broken BRICs, brothel-backed soccer

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Will the Fed pat itself on the back? Policymakers at the US Federal Reserve aren’t likely to shift their “low-for-long” course when they meet this afternoon to discuss interest rates. But Fed watchers will parse their policy statement regardless, looking for clues on how the bank assesses a recent resurgence in US housing markets, which many ascribe to the quantitative easing (QE3) the Fed announced a month ago.

Growth prospects in Europe and Asia. The results of three regular purchasing managers’ index (PMI) manufacturing surveys are being reported for China, Germany and the EU, providing another clue as to whether the global slowdown is bottoming out or deepening. Analysts are paying especially close attention to China, where HSBC’s PMI has been negative (indicating a contraction) for 11 months straight.

More earnings. When Boeing reports on this past quarter today, investors will be mindful of its seven-year backlog in jet orders, and whether it has made progress in translating that high demand for its planes into profits. Zynga, AT&T, Delta Airlines and Kimberly-Clark also report earnings today, providing a cross-sector snapshot of the economy’s health.

While you were sleeping

Apple finally unveiled the iPad Mini. Apple debuted a smaller tablet with specifications largely in line with what was rumored. But the $329 starting price tag struck some as high compared to other tablets, and Apple’s shares fell 3.3%. The Mini puts Apple squarely in competition with Amazon in the one-handed tablet market. It also could potentially cannibalize other Apple product sales, as more people start to use tablets instead of PCs. Apple unveiled an improved iMac as well, with streamlined sides made possible by a metal joining process called friction stir welding, usually employed in industries like shipbuilding and aerospace.

US shares fell, as companies warned of weaker global demand. Cautionary reports from DuPont, Xerox, UPS, and 3M helped drive the Dow Industrials down 1.8% in Tuesday trading. Netflix plunged 16% following its earnings report, with investors fretting about the online film subscription service’s pricey investments in original programming. Facebook shares climbed, as it reported accelerating revenue in the third-quarter, with 14% of its ad revenue coming on mobile devices.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on one impact of low interest rates: “Companies aren’t investing the money they can (thanks to QE) borrow cheaply in expanding their workforces or increasing production. They’re using it to buy back their own shares.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

People born in June and July don’t make the CEO cut. A recent study finds that executives born in March and April have a better shot at becoming chief executive of a US company.

The BRICS are broken. “The notion of wide-ranging convergence between the developing and the developed worlds is a myth,” writes Morgan Stanley emerging markets head Ruchir Sharma.

Your company too can avoid paying UK taxes. Just follow these simple guidelines and you can join the ranks of eBay, Starbucks, IKEA, Apple and Google.

Surprising discoveries

Half the world says blue is its favorite color. That makes blue at least three times more popular than second-place purple or green.

Two cash-strapped Greek soccer teams have taken on new sponsors to survive the economic crisis: a brothel and a funeral home.  Their new uniforms are, respectively, pink and red, and black with a big white cross.

A Tennessee couple discovered that the 33-pound rock that they’ve been using as a doorstop is actually a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite. At auction, such rocks can sell for as much as $380,000.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, and pictures of the rocks outside your front door to

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