Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Algeria’s election, Putin’s plans, the cloud’s epic battle, friendly drug dealers

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What to watch for today

Algeria’s presidential elections. 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. Already today, Ukrainian troops killed three pro-Russian militants after an attack on a national guard base in the east of the country.

Putin outlines his plans. His annual televised Q&A is underway now (with English translation), and he’s already discussed “Novorussia” and questioned the legitimacy of upcoming Ukraine elections. The last one lasted nearly five hours. The Kyiv Post is running a live blog of the event.

An ongoing search for survivors in Korea. Rising winds and waves added pressure on rescuers looking for hundreds of missing passengers of a Korean ferry, after it capsized in sight of land. The ferry was carrying mostly school children, some of whom were still texting family members from the ship after the accident.

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 slow in the first quarter, as Coca-Cola did earlier this week.

While you were sleeping

Europeans kept buying new cars. Newly-registered cars in the EU rose 11% in March. The figure—a proxy for total car sales—came in at 1.4 million vehicles during the month, pushing the increase in total registrations for the first quarter up to 8.4%. All major markets reported rises, with the UK leading with an 18% increase.

The West started to get tough over Russia. German officials say that new measures would be “wider-ranging and more harmful to Russian business interests” than previous sanctions, Bloomberg reports. Pushing for exclusion from international financial markets could be the US’s toughest move.

British house builder Taylor Wimpey had a great quarter. Its homes sold for 22% more than the same period a year earlier, as government assistance helped buyers purchase homes, and orders rose 33%. Steep price rises are fuelling concerns of another UK housing bubble.

Russian hypermarket Lenta defied skepticism. The only Russian company to IPO this year reported a 37.3% rise in first-quarter sales, taking $1.1 billion. The company has 89 stores, added 32 last year, and plans to open a further 39 this year.

China said its economy is better than it looks. 2013 trade figures were inflated by fake deals used to avoid capital controls, officials said. On Wednesday, China reported first-quarter GDP growth of 7.4%, below the government’s target of  7.5%.

Japan downgraded its economic outlook. A tax rise that cut consumer spending led the government to lower its economic assessment for the first time since November 2012.

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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