Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Spanish joblessness, Twitter growth, Chinese income inequality, robot jobs

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What to watch for today

Facebook unveils a mobile ad network. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to elucidate plans to make more money from the social network’s mobile users. A key element could be to allow advertisers to place highly targeted ads on non-Facebook apps using data from Facebook users’ online behavior.

Iraq heads to the polls. Commentators expect Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s incumbent prime minister, to secure a third term when the country votes in its first election since the withdrawal of US troops. However, even if Maliki wins the vote, he could have a tricky task ahead in forming a government.

GlaxoSmithKline’s drugs deal hurts its profits. GSK is set to post a 12% drop in earnings-per-share in its first quarter, an uncharacteristic dip after eight consecutive profitable quarters. The decline is likely linked to GSK’s recent $16 billion deal (paywall) with Novartis.

Harsh weather and political instability hamper economic growth. A brutal winter has probably taken its toll on the US economy, which is expected to have grown 1% in the first quarter of 2014 (paywall), compared to 2.6% at the close of 2013. Meanwhile, analysts predict that crisis-stricken Ukraine’s GDP contracted by 1.6%, compared to a 3.3% growth in the fourth quarter.

While you were sleeping

Twitter’s first-quarter user growth was modest. About 255 million people now actively use the social network, up from 241 million at the end of 2013. Revenue beat analyst expectations overall, but Twitter isn’t generating as much ad revenue each time users refresh their feeds.

The UK inched toward economic recovery. The UK racked up its fifth consecutive quarter of economic expansion, marking growth of 0.8% in the opening quarter of 2014—boosted by strong manufacturing output and a growing service sector.

Spanish joblessness worsened. Spain suffered its biggest first-quarter workforce decline in six years, and its unemployment rate climbed to 25.9%, the second-highest in the EU. Winter is usually a bad time for job growth in the tourism-heavy country.

But it wasn’t all bad news in Spain. Santander, the Madrid-based bank, offered to buy the quarter of its Brazilian unit that it does not already own for €4.7 billion ($6.5 billion), after its first-quarter profits grew by a better-than-expected 8%. The news sent shares in Santander Brasil up by more than 20%. 

Apple kicked off its second bond sale. The iPhone maker has already raked in $40 billion worth of orders (paywall) for the $12 billion worth of bonds it plans to sell to fund its shareholder buyback program. Most of Apple’s cash is held overseas, and taking on more debt is a cheaper option than bringing that money to the US.

Wanted: Chinese businessman. The US is offering a $5-million reward for information that could lead to the arrest or conviction of Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee, a Chinese businessman accused of supplying missile parts to Iran. The US announced sanctions on eight of Fangwei’s companies. 

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on China’s attempts to hide just how bad its income equality has become. “Turns out the gap between wealthy and poor Chinese may be much larger than the government has said and also a good bit wider than that of the US. According to a new study from the University of Michigan, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (NAS), China’s Gini coefficient is now around 0.55. That’s higher than the official released number last year of 0.474 and higher than America’s most recently released number of 0.477. (The coefficient, a common measure of income inequality, ranges from 0 to 1, with 0 representing the most equal society.)” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A high number of guards and firefighters is a sign of an unequal society. They’re wasting productive time guarding other people’s wealth.

Robots are coming for your jobs. Our interactive infographic lets you know whether you’re at risk.

A tech-stock crash is a good thing.

 ”A reduction of euphoria 

reflects a return to reason



Cheerleaders deserve your sympathy. 


pay and work conditions are subpar

—especially in a multibillion-dollar industry such as the National Football League.


Android will conquer the US. 

Now that Apple has taught people how to use smartphones, 

Android’s trickier customizability

 is no longer off-putting. 

Surprising discoveries

How to get ketchup out of the glass bottle.


physics of fluids are complicated

but the solution is simple: Give the bottle some hard shakes with the lid still on. 

Breast-milk banks are popping up all over the place. 

At least 

some banks are popular

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot resumés, and condiment tricks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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