Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Raising the Sewol, goodnight Nokia, German pessimism, floppy-disk Warhols

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What to watch for today

The attempt to raise the SewolSalvage experts are slated to try to raise the ferry that sank last week off the coast of South Korea. At least 150 people lost their lives in the disaster and 100 others are feared dead too.

The end of an era for Nokia. The $7.2 billion sale of Nokia’s handset business to Microsoft closes, but the company will still be forced to make phones in India for up to another 12 months.

Obama says sayonara. The US president will depart Japan, where his visit seems to have failed to push trade talks forward. He’s on to South Korea, where the neighbors to the north are doing a bit of their usual sword-rattling.

A test of nerve for the Banco de México. Economists expect the central bank to hold interest rates steady despite signs of an economic slowdown, which have pushed the peso to a three-week low.

It’s shopping time in America. The final reading of US consumer sentiment in April from the University of Michigan will shed light on whether the mood is warming up after a brutal winter. Preliminary readings suggested spending would continue to improve.

Global news on automobiles. Honda, Ford and Kia all announce quarterly earnings. Analysts will be eager to hear details about a reported leadership transition at Ford, where rescue-whiz Alan Mulally is expected to retire.

While you were sleeping

Putin hinted that east Ukraine was his. After Ukrainian forces killed up to five separatists in the pro-Russian stronghold of Slovyansk, Russia began military drills on its side of the Russian-Ukraine border and declared such actions would “incur consequences.”

Some airlines blamed the weather. American Airlines and United Airlines, both of them the product of recent mergers, said poor earnings were the result of the harsh winter causing lots of flight cancellations. JetBlue had given a similar excuse, though Southwest and Delta on Wednesday saw profits jump.

Israel stopped talking to the Palestinians—because the Palestinians started talking to each other. Israel’s decision to break off talks came after the Palestinian Authority struck a reconciliation deal with the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

GM kept on trucking. Though the recalls of millions of vehicles cost it $1.3 billion and an 88% drop in profit, the largest US car maker reported better than expected first quarter results, thanks to strong sales of pickup trucks.

Facebook’s buying binge continued. It bought the Finnish company that made Moves, a fitness app, for an undisclosed price, in the social networking giant’s first move into fitness products.

Barclays got an earful on banker pay. Shareholders voted their anger at the British bank’s decision to raise bonuses amid falling profits. Executives said they needed to attract and retain talent.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on how pessimism is the secret to German success. “German executives are almost always less confident in the future than they are in the present. Since 2004, the index for future conditions has been lower than the one for current conditions nearly three-quarters of the time. In recent history, only during the darkest days of the global financial crisis did German managers think that conditions tomorrow would be better than today. Pessimism about the future looks like an ingrained personality trait.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

More video games should embrace “permadeath.” If the game ends when you die, it encourages caution and patience.

Larry Page is the Steve Jobs of Google. But Google’s investors were right to ignore him early on.

China’s largest telecom giant doesn’t need the US. Being shut out from a massive consumer and business telecom market hasn’t hurt Huawei’s bottom line or growth prospects.

Se necesita médicos. The US needs more Hispanic medical students to help serve the country’s largest minority group.

Surprising discoveries

The internet is a “CIA project.” That’s what Vladimir Putin thinks anyway.

Don’t throw away those old floppy disks. Researchers have extracted some undiscovered Andy Warhol works from a floppy disk from 1985.

Vietnam is Apple’s best market. Sales in the communist Southeast Asian state tripled during the first half of Apple’s fiscal year.

It gets better with time. Men hold on to underwear for an average of seven years.

South Koreans love megachurches. Even more than Americans do.

Speed-reading apps are great for speed. For reading, not so much.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, antique floppies, and old underwear to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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