Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Buffett acquisitions, videogame shortfalls, iPad mini marketing

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Apple and Amazon earnings. The two US tech giants report third-quarter earnings, with all eyes on Apple’s iPhone and iPad sales—although changes to its product line mean that any clues to future strategy could be more important than recent months’ performance. Amazon-watchers will be looking for signs that the company can continue its clip as “the best secular growth story in retail” heading into the holiday shopping season.

Weekly QE3 report card. The Federal Reserve’s “balance sheet,” a broad gauge of its lending to financial institutions, is published today. Economists and policy wonks scrutinize this weekly data to track whether liquidity injections are filtering through to the economy. US weekly jobless claims data are also due out,  and may provide evidence of whether QE3 is helping the economy to recover. Last week’s figures showed mild improvements.

Will Syria keep a holiday truce? Syria’s government is ready for a ceasefire to honor the Eid al-Adha Islamic holiday, according to Moscow’s UN ambassador—a move that the UN Security Council said could become a first step toward ending 19 months of violence. Rebels remained skeptical.

While you were sleeping

ANZ bank reported bonzer profits, gnarly outlook. The Asia-focused Australian lender has ridden the wave of Chinese economic growth well, and reported a record AUS$5.66 billion ($5.86 billion) in net income for the year to September 30. But CEO Michael Smith said 2013 would be challenging.

Not so Super Mario. Shares in Nintendo, the world’s largest maker of videogame machines and publisher of titles including the Super Mario series plunged after the firm cut its profit forecast because of falling demand for its handheld gaming devices and the strong yen. The rise of smartphone gaming is challenging makers of gaming consoles.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he was “salivating” at the possibility that his Berkshire Hathaway company would make more major acquisitions. Berkshire has $40 billion in cash, and two $20 billion acquisitions fell through earlier this year over price, Buffett told CNBC.

The US Federal Reserve unsurprisingly kept interest rates and economic assessments unchanged. After a dramatic third wave of quantitative easing last month, policymakers at this month’s meeting held steady, maybe unwilling to shake things up before the presidential election in two weeks, or maybe preparing for the fiscal tumult that could potentially unfold as the fiscal cliff approaches soon after.

US sues Bank of America for “Hustle” mortgage program. Federal prosecutors are accusing the country’s second-biggest bank of fraud, having cost taxpayers $1 billion in losses tied to a toxic mortgage loan scheme that Countrywide, a lender since acquired by the bank, referred to as “Hustle.” It is the first such civil fraud lawsuit brought in connection to the 2008 mortgage-loan crisis.

Gupta gets two years in prison. Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta was given two years of jail time and fined $5 million, the biggest fish yet in a US federal crackdown on insider trading. Gupta, who also ran consulting firm McKinsey from 1994-2003, was convicted last June of  leaking some of Goldman’s secrets to hedge fund manager and former classmate Raj Rajatnaram. As an alternative to prison, his lawyer had proposed that he do community service in New York or Rwanda.

Tech writers released their reviews of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet. The iPad competitor–and first tablet or computer ever made by Microsoft–got high marks for its hardware design, including optional covers with integrated keyboards. But reviewers criticized parts of the software interface.

More earnings. US aerospace giant Boeing raised its profit forecast for the third time this year, reporting better-than-expected third-quarter income after quicker production slashed backlogged orders and boosted cash flow, and the company recorded more commercial and military sales. Social gaming company Zynga meanwhile reported a 3% gain in sales and a slight loss in net income, beating expectations after layoffs earlier this week. Shares soared in after-hours trading on news of a partnership to launch casino games that will use real money.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zachary Seward, in an exclusive, on Apple’s latest advertising strategy for the mobile web“Apple’s iPad has until now been more popular with men, but the company’s initial marketing campaign for the new iPad Mini will focus on attracting women. Three people who sell advertising for media companies tell me that Apple is primarily buying space for iPad Mini ads in publications and on TV shows that cater to women.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Budget cuts won’t help the US economy. As the fiscal cliff looms, policymakers should learn a lesson from Greece and the spiraling EU crisis—austerity won’t boost growth.

Parliamentary elections in Ukraine this Sunday are set to push the country closer to Moscow, eroding democracy and boosting instability, write Alexander J. Motyl and Rajan Menon.

Surprising discoveries

Lady Gaga, the fern. Biologists at Duke University have renamed 19 fern species with the genus “Gaga,” reportedly citing parallels between the plants and a green outfit the singer wore at the 2010 Grammys, as well as “the fern’s bisexuality and claw-like shape.”

Robotics researchers have built a new device to track soldiers, miners, and firefighters, even where satellites can’t find them. The tiny computer and sensors fit on the bottom of a boot and gauge location by measuring footsteps.

A South African film designer is asking people to send toenail clippings to China’s embassy in South Africa. The move is aimed as a protest against Chinese demand for rhino horn, which is used as a cancer cure in traditional Chinese medicine.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, and Berkshire acquisition targets to

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