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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US auto manufacturing, UK confidence, Afghan telcos, dirty T-shirt dating

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Americans get a bit richer. US personal incomes for February are expected to have risen 0.34% on the month, after a 0.31% rise in January. As consumer spending drives 70% of US GDP, healthier paychecks should have a ripple effect for the broader economy.

BlackBerry runs low on juice. The troubled Canadian phone company will have to account for the poor take-up of its BB10 handset after dismal sales led to a $1.6 billion writedown in the previous quarter. This quarter, BlackBerry is set to post a sharp decline in profit, revenue, shipments, customers…need we go on?

Xi Jinping arrives in Germany. The Chinese president will talk trade with chancellor Angela Merkel. Despite earlier speculation, he won’t be visiting Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial Museum in an attempt to criticize Japan for its lack of post-war remorse.

While you were sleeping 

BMW is expanding in South Carolina… The German carmaker is expected to announce the production of a new luxury X7 sports car at its US manufacturing facility, which could bring in $1 billion in additional investment.

…And Ford invested in the Midwest. The carmaker said it would spend $500 million to update its Lima, Ohio plant to produce EcoBoost engines for the Ford F-150, North America’s best-selling vehicle.

The British economy got some good news. UK consumers are more confident than at any time since the beginning of the financial crisis, according to polling firm GfK, suggesting stronger consumer spending in the months to come.

The Fed won’t hike rates this year. The US central bank will need to keep interest rates “near zero well into 2015,” Chicago Federal Reserve Bank president Charles Evans said in Hong Kong, citing low inflation and lingering high unemployment.

The search for MH370 shifted locations. After a week of searching the Indian Ocean 2,500km southwest of Perth, newly obtained radar data suggested the plane may have been traveling faster than previously estimated, putting the new search area 1,100 km (685 miles) to the northeast. Separately, authorities said they found nothing of interest on the lead pilot’s homemade flight simulator.

Japanese inflation was unchanged. Consumer prices rose 1.3% in February, just as in January and December, as bad weather was counterbalanced by shoppers trying to beat a looming sales tax increase.

ANA went Dreamliner shopping. The Japanese airline splurged on 80 of the embattled 787 Dreamliner jets, giving Boeing a much-needed $16.6 billion vote of confidence in its fight against Airbus.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how a homegrown Afghan telco prepared to expand into Africa. “In 2001, the year the war began in Afghanistan, some 80,000 of Afghanistan’s 21 million people had access to a telephone (pdf), and 25,000 of those used satellite phones, Roshan estimates. In 2002, when the first mobile company started operations, a SIM card cost $250, according to a USAID report on Afghan telecoms (pdf). Today, with its population around 30 million, Afghanistan has more than 20 million active SIMs, which can be picked up for under $1 and put in a $10 handset.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Nate Silver can’t explain everything. You can’t convincingly use data without questioning your own underlying assumptions.

We should all be eating invasive species. If you want to help the ecosystem, consume your enemies.

Shenzhen is the new Silicon Valley. Three of the the world’s five largest mobile phone makers are from China.

Microsoft just entered its post-PC phase. Releasing Office for iPad shows the mobile audience that it means business.

Surprising discoveries

There’s a bitcoin smartphone virus going around. Infected phones mine bitcoins for the creator of the malware.

London daters are sniffing dirty T-shirts. It’s an attempt to match up singles by their pheromone preference.

Marinating meat with beer is good for you. It reduces the formation of carcinogenic material.

Mexican drug gangs have branched out into citrus fruit. Extortion rackets have caused lime prices to more than triple since December. 

The black market values stolen Twitter accounts more than credit cards. Watch out, @Target.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spare limes, and stolen Twitter handles to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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