Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Brazil’s drought, Britain’s budget, Beijing-Baoding, Bruce studies

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What to watch for today

Nike stays top of its game. The athletic outfitter is set to post revenue growth of 8.1% in its third quarter. Investors will be looking out for continued gains in China, where Nike has proven it can beat the emerging-market slowdown, as well as other signs that the company behind the swoosh can run rings around its industry rivals.

Black is the new red for Li & Fung. The world’s biggest clothing and toys supplier to retailers such as Target and Walmart is expected to post a 1% profit increase for 2013 (paywall). The Hong Kong-based firm signaled it was on track to the black following a loss-making year in 2012.

Obama continues trying to make Obamacare fun. The US president will appear on The Ellen Show with Ellen DeGeneres to talk about the Affordable Care Act. It’s his latest unconventional way of promoting the health insurance reform, after appearing on the parody talk-show Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis last week.

FIFA assesses human rights in Qatar. Soccer’s governing body will review a report on how Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, plans to improve working conditions on contruction sites. FIFA is under fire over corruption claims about how Qatar was chosen, and findings that up to 4,000 migrant workers could die building World Cup facilities.

While you were sleeping

The Fed tapered, markets shied. In her first policy meeting as US central bank chair, Janet Yellen announced a further $10 billion cutback in monthly asset purchases to $55 billion, and said the Fed could raise interest rates about six months after bond-buying ends. Investors, however, reacted to a chart suggesting 2015 will see higher rates.

Brazil was warned to solve its water shortage. The World Water Council told Sao Paulo it needs to start saving water urgently or it won’t have enough during this summer’s FIFA World Cup. A record drought has taken water levels in Brazil’s biggest city to their lowest since 1982.

Britain unveiled its budget. In the annual budget, UK finance minister George Osborne lowered the tax on long-haul flights, increased tax breaks for businesses, and clamped down on tax avoiders. But it wasn’t all good news; here are some scary graphs about Britain’s debt and growth you won’t find in the government’s press release.

Speculation swirled about China’s “auxiliary capital.” Baoding, a city near Beijing known chiefly as the home of the donkey burger, attracted investor attention after a report that China would relocate some government offices there (paywall) from Beijing. Baoding government officials denied any knowledge of the announcement.

JP Morgan sold its oil and metal business. Mercuria Energy Group agreed to buy JP Morgan’s physical commodities unit for $3.5 billion, marking the bank’s exit from the fuel industry. JP Morgan had faced pressure from regulators who said the bank could control prices if it owned as well as traded commodities.

Canada picked a new finance minister. Joe Oliver was sworn in as finance minister, one day after his predecessor, Jim Flaherty, stepped down to return to the private sector.  73-year-old Oliver was previously Canada’s natural resources minister and used to work as an investment banker.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on the slow death of the microwave. “Microwave sales have fallen or remained flat every year for nearly a decade in the US. Unit sales have tumbled by 25% since 2000, and 40% since their peak, in 2004. The waning popularity of the American microwave deserves a closer look. For 40 years, Americans bought microwaves by the millions, and more of them each year. Some 90% of American households now own a microwave, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That broad market penetration is likely one reason that sales have tailed off.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Kickstarter isn’t an ethical way to fund a project. Or so claims this game developer who raised more than $100,000 last year on Kickstarter.

England’s financial center beats America’s. Russia has figured that out, and it leaves the UK more vulnerable than the US.

Don’t blindly trust “data-based journalism.” It might look more authoritative, but all data analysis is prone to bias.

A Chinese housing crash could be even worse than America’s. Housing contributes 16% of GDP, but after years of binge-building floor space, China has too much of it.

Not all kids are college material. We should be priming some high school students for the workplace, not the library.

Surprising discoveries

There’s a peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to Bruce Springsteen. Something like this could only be born in the USA.

Children with a sweet tooth have an evolutionary advantage. Kids with a penchant for sugary foods tend to be tall. It also explains why many lose this taste by adulthood.

There’s an app for anti-social networking. ”Cloak” pools location data from other apps to warn you when people you know are nearby.

Women become more empathetic when they’re stressed. The opposite is true of men, who become more egocentric when stressed.

Oceanography just went interplanetary. The passing Cassini space probe spotted tiny ripples in the hydrocarbon seas on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Springsteen analyses, and pictures of distant waves to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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