Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—EU-US inflation, Vietnam protests China, BNP’s mega-fine, Zuck’s birthday

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What to watch for today

Sony’s profits plunge. Sony will post an annual profit drop of 90% (paywall) to 26 billion yen ($255 million), dragged down by weak sales, increasing competition in Asia, and costs from selling off its loss-making PC unit.

The latest on Europe’s deflation risk. The latest Bank of England inflation report could shed light on when the central bank will raise interest rates, after UK inflation fell to 1.6% in March. French and Spanish inflation are expected to inch up.

Ukraine holds its first National Dialogue roundtable. The Ukrainian parliament opened the conversation about its current political crisis to “everybody who has legitimate political aims” and “those who don’t have blood on their hands.”

Mark Zuckerberg turns 30. The Facebook CEO is currently the world’s 22nd richest person according to Forbes. (He founded the company when he was 20.)

A US inflation indicator. The US producer price index is expected to show a 1.7% rise for April, year-on-year. That would be the highest monthly rise this year, although a drop in natural gas prices may have a last-minute lowering effect on the increase.

Las Vegas bets on Japan. Gambling magnates descend on Tokyo for a three-day conference about the legalization of casinos in Japan, one of the world’s last untapped gaming markets, worth an estimated $40 billion in annual revenues.

Britain’s jobs scene gets slightly less grim. Analysts expect UK unemployment to drop from 6.9% to 6.8% for the first three months of 2014, although there may not be much change for the 19.1% of jobless youth. Average earnings, which have been tightening for years, are set to have grown 2% in March (paywall).

While you were sleeping

China’s vital signs continued their long slowdown. Lower factory production meant China’s power output growth slowed to an 11-month low. Factory production grew 8.7% in April, compared with estimates of 8.9%, and electricity production grew just 4.4%. Meanwhile, prices are falling for residential properties.

US stocks reached record highs. Coca Cola’s shopping plans and other merger talk sent the S&P 500 through the 1,900 barrier for the first time. The Dow also closed at an all-time high of 16,716. India’s Sensex hit fresh highs too.

Vietnamese torched factories they thought were Chinese. 10 factories were set alight and looted in southern Vietnam, as tensions rise between the two countries over disputed areas of the South China Sea. Many of the factories were actually Taiwanese-owned, the AP reports.

US authorities could fine BNP Paribas. The bank allegedly violated sanctions in Iran and elsewhere, and authorities are pushing for a €4.8 billion ($3.5 billion) fine (paywall). If successful, the fine would amount to around half of the group’s net income for 2013, and well surpass the $1.1 billion it originally set aside to deal with the issue.

A mine fire in Turkey killed over 150. 157 are dead and hundreds more remain trapped in a coal mine that caught fire in the west. A proposed inquiry into the safety of mines in the region was rejected by Turkey’s parliament only a month ago.

Brazil backpedaled on taxing soccer fans. Following pressure from beverage companies, the government said its plan to raise taxes on beer and soft drinks by 2.25% won’t kick in until after the World Cup.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on why AT&T wants to get into the satellite TV business. “AT&T’s potential bid [for DirecTV] is really about the US. It could bundle DirecTV’s video product (including the popular NFL Sunday Ticket packages) in with its mobile subscriptions and/or landline broadband access. Bundling is a strategy telecoms and other subscription-based businesses use to hold on to customers—it’s harder to end a relationship with a company when you are getting multiple services from it—as well as to drive growth. Yet prominent analysts have questioned the rationale behind this rumored transaction.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Tech companies’ cash is stopping a dotcom crash. Stocks may have fallen out of favor, but Silicon Valley companies are holding plenty of cash which will help them avoid imminent bankruptcy.

China’s impending housing correction has a silver lining. The sooner the correction comes, the sooner China’s banks will be able to find a better recipe for growth (paywall).

The Bank of England is in a bit of a pickle. It’s damned if it raises interest rates and damned if it doesn’t.

Hollywood is making distinctly average superhero movies on purpose. Growing budgets and shrinking audiences make studios rely on adaptations and sequels.

Facebook’s shopping spree will turn it into a GE-like conglomerate. It’s part of the company’s—and Mark Zuckerberg’s—maturation.

The Indian elections are just like “Game of Thrones.” We’re talking strong personalities and ruling family dramas. No dragons or be-headings, though.

Surprising discoveries

Starbucks door handles are designed increase coffee sales. Stores also tweak seemingly trivial counter designs to make the customer feel as good as possible about buying its coffee.

The UN is debating a ban on killer robots. The UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons says its better to decide now the dangers of armed bots.

In defense of the use of  ”so.”  Some say that putting the word at the beginning of a sentence communicates interest and evokes prior conversations.

London is Europe’s second most expensive place to buy housing. Following Monaco, after home prices rose some 18% in the year to February.

Apple likes to make announcements on a Tuesday. The reason is simple enough: the weekly review and planning meeting happens on Monday.

France is no longer the world’s biggest wine market. The US now is—although the average French consumer still drinks six times as much wine as an American.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, suggestive door handles and Zuckerberg birthday cards to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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