Quartz Daily Brief – Europe Edition – Sandy, Baidu, Apple

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

US business and financial market disruptions from the massive storm that struck the East Coast. US equity and dollar-denominated bond trading will be suspended again Tuesday, with plans to reopen on Oct. 31. Parts of the Northeastern US are effectively paralyzed in the wake of the storm by flight cancellations, public transit closings, major flooding, and power outages. The potential costs of the storm are hard to measure, but a worst-case scenario could result in $55 billion in damages. Check in here for ongoing updates on how the storm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy is affecting markets.

Hints about the future of the euro. European Central Bank Chair Mario Draghi today speaks in Frankfurt, Germany, and euro watchers will be listening closely for hints about the region’s financial future.

Meanwhile, the (fiscal) rain in Spain is…clearing up? Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said his country still doesn’t need a bailout. He faces falling out with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti over future bailout strategy.

The Bank of Japan announces interest rates. The central bank is expected to ease monetary policy further by boosting its purchases of government bonds, but also real estate investment trusts and exchange-traded funds. Don’t expect central bankers in emerging markets to react well to further signs of the “currency war” between advanced economies seeking new growth.

While you were sleeping

Apple ousted the man once called its “CEO-in-waiting” and the “sorcerer’s apprentice.” The company said Scott Forstall, who was responsible for building the iOS software created to power the original iPhone, will leave next year. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mr. Forstall was asked to leave after he refused to sign his name to a recent letter apologizing for problems with Apple’s new mapping service. Apple also removed its new retail chief, John Browett. The Journal says that’s because he made mistakes and didn’t fit in.

Baidu missed billion-dollar expectations. The Chinese online search company announced its earnings this morning, just missing the $1 billion dollar sales analysts had forecast for the third quarter. After 12 quarters of exceeding expectations, the company is starting to face tougher competition within China. It also has similar challenges to Google when it comes to making money from searches on smartphone screens, which offer advertisers less real estate than desktop computers. Still, with 80% of the market in its home country, Baidu has a lot going for it.

Virgin Australia swooped on rivals.  The Aussie airline has done three deals. It sold a 10% stake to Singapore Airlines, bought the majority of Asian budget carrier Tiger Airways and said it planned to bid for all of another Asian airline, Skywest Holdings. Air travel in Asia Pacific is growing fast, particularly in the budget segment as newly middle-class but still-price-conscious Asians tentatively take to the skies.

Chinese factories started to recover. That is according to a Reuters poll of economists and reflects huge efforts the Beijing government has made to stimulate the economy. These include boosting aluminum production unnecessarily, which is leading to huge stockpiles, and buying up cotton.

In Syria, a truce that never was came to an end. While diplomats hoped that a hostilities might cease during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, the Assad regime launched the most intense air raid since the civil war began.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the consequences of Laos’s admission to the World Trade Organization: “The country puts great hope on WTO membership to help increase exports to foreign markets. Some argue that the results vary too much by country to conclude whether this happens, but one study finds that sales of long-standing exports to new markets are not helped by WTO accession, only exports to existing foreign markets. For Laos, which already has a trade deficit with its top trading partners Thailand, China, and Vietnam, gaining access to new markets is key. Without that, there is little benefit in joining the WTO, considering other pressures it will bring.”  Read more here.

Matters of debate

Investors and employers chase Chinese labor inland. And that’s good news for Chinese workers who want things like pensions and health care.

Budweiser and KFC aren’t American brands anymore. But they are luxury products in emerging markets!

Latin America doesn’t like dollar developments. US Fed Chair Ben Bernanke isn’t held in high esteem by the region’s emerging economies.

Surprising discoveries

Brazil loves tiny dogs! The country is the world leader in per-capita possession of dogs weighing less than 20 lbs, and that’s got economic implications.

China still has not managed to build a reliable jet engine. And that is after the country developed nuclear missiles and sent astronauts to space.

Moore’s Law remains in effect. IBM reports that advances in nanotube technology will ensure that computer processor speeds will continue to double, more or less, each year.

Yoko Ono didn’t break up the Beatles. That’s still John Lennon’s fault.

How to keep your cell phone charged as long as possible in a power outage. We aren’t afraid to be servicey.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, and Hurricane Sandy survival tips to

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