Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—News Corp’s numbers, Lewinsky’s dish, a new coffee king, the pollen vortex

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What to watch for today

Barclays slashes jobs. Barclays will announce 15,000 job cuts—70% in the UK–which will likely lead to branch closures, too. The investment banking division will take the biggest hit, after its income fell 28% last quarter amid waning demand for bonds.

The UK and EU stick with current rates. The Bank of England is set to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, despite concerns over soaring house prices. The European Central Bank is likely to push off quantitative easing again, ignoring calls to intervene amid looming deflation.

News Corp struggles with a declining print industry. As Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper and book publishing empire reports earnings, investors will be looking for how well it’s offsetting ongoing declines in advertising, circulation and subscription revenues. Weak Australian operations have also been weighing on News Corp.

Monica Lewinsky dishes the dirt. Bill Clinton’s former intern writes for the first time about her affair with the former president. A decade after the fact, Vanity Fair will publish her account of online humiliation and her inability to secure a job.

While you were sleeping

A coffee powerhouse was born. Nestle had better watch out: Its main rivals, Mondelez and DE Master Blenders, the companies behind Carte Noire and Senseo, agreed to merge. The new company will be called Jacobs Douwe Egberts and run by DE’s management, leaving Mondelez to focus on its food brands such as Cadbury and Oreo.

Janet Yellen shared concerns about Russia. The Federal Reserve chief outlined “geopolitical tensions” (read: the Ukraine crisis) and the slowing housing sector as two prominent risks for the US’s economic recovery. Yellen also reiterated the central bank’s plans to keep interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future.

Vitol’s vitals fell. The world’s biggest oil trader, Vitol, which is privately owned, saw its profit fall to a 10-year low (paywall) amid increasing competition, slowing growth in China, and tricky market conditions. Pre-tax profit for 2013 dropped 20% to $845.4 million, while revenue grew 1.3%.

Putin softened his line. The Russian president called Ukraine’s elections, planned for May 25, “a step in the right direction,” and called for eastern Ukraine’s secession referendum, due this Sunday, to be postponed. He also said he was pulling Russian troops back from Ukraine’s eastern border, though Western officials said there was no sign of that.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on the four problems that irritate Amazon but threaten Alibaba’s existence. “Included in Alibaba’s highly anticipated IPO filing was a reminder that despite the benefits and wealth it has reaped from China’s massive population, being a Chinese corporate giant—particularly one based on the internet—isn’t a walk in the park. In its filing, Alibaba reminded investors of some of the unique issues it faces. These are challenges that any company operating in China has to deal with, but since Alibaba gets nearly all of its revenue from China, and likely will for some time to come, they present several major threats.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Putin is doing wonders for the US economy. He’s scaring investors out of Russia and into the safe hands of US government debt.  

It’s OK to keep eating cod from the North Sea. Ignore the conflicting and confusing reports; the industry is working on responsible fishing.

A book is more than the sum of its printed words. Annotations in the margins of physical books add history, interpretation and exchange of ideas.

Buying a home is still worth it. Renting is looking increasingly attractive, but don’t be fooled—it has its own risks.

Surprising discoveries

Chinese online shopping could soon be worth more than Swiss GDP. It’s set to double in size by 2016.

Gaming budgets are rivaling Hollywood’s. Activision Blizzard will spend $500 million on the video game Destiny.

The “pollen vortex” is coming. The US’s particularly harsh winter is gone, but a more allergenic summer will take its place.

You could get way more compensation from flight delays. You guessed it: there’s an app for that.

Godzilla has been growing. As skyscrapers have gotten taller, the Godzilla in movies has too.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, antihistamines, and Godzilla trivia to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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