Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Algeria’s election, tech disappoints, the cloud’s epic battle, friendly drug dealers

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What to watch for today

Algeria’s president goes for a fourth term. Abdelaziz Bouteflika looks likely to win today’s election, despite controversy over whether the 77-year-old is healthy enough to lead the country and growing disenchantment among younger Algerians.

Four-way talks on Ukraine. Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the US will hold talks in Geneva to try to defuse the standoff. Yesterday, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine seized a bunch of Ukrainian armored cars and went joyriding.

What cars Europeans are buying. Industry-wide EU car sales for March are due. Volkswagen already reported nearly an 8% uptick in sales in March—the highest in more than a year.

Slowdown at Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street investment bank reports earnings for its first quarter. Revenues are expected to come in 14% lower than the same period last year.

Soda sales continue to lose fizz. PepsiCo’s soda business is likely to show a contraction in the first quarter, as Coca-Cola did earlier this week.

While you were sleeping

Google’s juggernaut showed some cracks… The global internet giant reported net income well below expectations. The news contrasts with Yahoo’s rather upbeat earnings the day before, though that says more about what the markets expects from the two companies.

… and IBM results were predictably underwhelming. First quarter earnings were in line with Wall Street estimates, but down 15% from a year ago. Revenue was $22.5 billion for the quarter, 4% down on the year. The company will maintain is in the process of a five year restructuring.

The search for survivors continued in Korea. Nine have been confirmed dead and 290 of the 450 passengers are still missing after a ferry capsized in sight of land in Korea. The ferry was carrying mostly school children, some of whom were still texting family members from the ship  after the accident.

Confidence grew among Japan’s manufacturers… There are more optimistic manufacturers in Japan than pessimistic ones—the first uptick in confidence in three months. This comes despite an April 1 rise in the country’s sales tax. Manufacturers cite strong domestic demand for their confidence.

… and declined in Australia. Business confidence fell to six points in the first quarter, from eight points in the last quarter of 2013. A figure above zero indicates optimism. Company executives are concerned about the exchange rate hurting competitiveness.

SodaStream sale rumors swirled again. The Israeli firm is in talks with a buyer, possibly PepsiCo, reported an Israeli newspaper. But we’ve heard that story at least a couple of times before.

Bank of America had a bad quarter. The US’s second largest bank by assets reported that it lost $276 million in the first quarter, its first negative quarter in three years. The $6 billion spent on legal bills to settle disputes tied to the financial crisis wasn’t the only factor.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on Amazon and Google’s mammoth battle for the cloud. Google is playing catch-up with a single market leader, Amazon, that has a track record of destroying incumbents in every industry it gets into. What Google has in its favor, besides a sheer technical expertise, is that it already runs the biggest cloud-computing operation in the world—just that it puts most of it to a different use. Read more here.

Matters of debate

No, reducing the gender pay gap won’t destroy marriages. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Russia isn’t the real problem in Ukraine. Ukraine’s internal divisions are.

Americans need to start birthing more babies.  ”The groups that breed will (literally) inherit the future..,” writes Jonathan Last.

The MH370 tragedy won’t stop Chinese families moving to Malaysia. It’s an increasingly attractive place for middle-class Chinese seeking to escape pressures at home.

Corporate culture comes from the top, not the bottom. 80% of office culture is dictated by a company’s founders.

Surprising discoveries

Almost 1 in 5 Netflix or Hulu users cuts their cord. It’s official: the internet is killing cable.

The logistics of India’s election are mind-bogging. They include 1.7 million electronic voting machines.

Yahoo’s ousted no. 2 made more than his boss. COO Henrique de Castro was paid $96 million for his 15 months on the job.

There’s a market for fake World Cup trophies. Officials in China seized more than 1,000 of them recently.

The Dutch are the friendliest drug dealers. French dealers, on the other hand, are the most likely to beat up their clients.

“Spooning” while sleeping is a sign of happiness. Less happy couples sleep further apart.

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