Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Japan’s GDP growth, FIFA allegations, Russia’s RMB embrace, Twitter poems

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What to watch for today

European leaders discuss the European Commission’s top job. David Cameron and Angela Merkel meet with leaders from Sweden and the Netherlands to discuss who should be the next president of the group. Cameron is urging the others not to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s former prime minister.

The S&P 500 could hit a milestone. A 2.5% gain in the steadily ascending index would put it at 2000 for the first time ever, a very real possibility because there is no major economic news expected to rock the boat.

Gaming companies square off. Microsoft and Sony are among the major players to kick off this year’s E3 conference in Los Angeles. Microsoft’s task is to appeal to hardcore gamers (paywall) while touting its Xbox One as a multimedia living room device, and Sony needs to hold on to its sales lead.

FIFA finishes up its Qatar probe. Following months of investigation, Michael Garcia, a New York-based lawyer, will conclude the process, although his findings are not likely to be published for another six weeks. If he finds wrongdoing in Qatar’s bid, FIFA could vote again for the 2022 hosts.

Holidays in Europe. France and Germany are on holiday, so expect a quieter day of business in Europe—happy holidays if you are resting!

Over the weekend

Japan’s economy grew more than expected. Japan’s GDP growth for the first quarter was revised up to 1.6% from a previous estimate of 1.5%. The news is even more positive than it looks—analysts expected a downward revision for one, and the boost is not only from individuals spending ahead of the April 1 tax rise, but also from capital expenditure.

Domestic demand sagged in China. The country’s trade surplus almost doubled to $35.9 billion after its exports jumped to 7% in May, compared to April’s 0.9% increase, and imports unexpectedly fell by 1.6%, missing expectations of a 6.1% rise and fueling concerns about weakening domestic demand.

Russian companies moved to the renminbi. Fears that Western sanctions will freeze them out of the dollar market have led Russian companies to start writing contracts in China’s currency (paywall). Other Asian currencies have also been considered, and requests for bank accounts in Asia have surged, the head of Deutsche Bank in Russia told the Financial Times.

Bulgaria put its pipeline on ice. Following pressure from the EU and the US, Bulgaria said it would stop building its South Stream gas pipeline, a project funded by Russia’s Gazprom. The pipe would deliver gas to western Europe through the Balkans, avoiding Ukraine.

Egypt inaugurated its new president… Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who ousted Mohamed Morsi last year, was sworn in as president. He said defeating terrorism would be his top priority, and there would be “no acquiescence or laxity shown to those who resorted to violence.”

…And so did Ukraine. “Chocolate king” Petro Poroshenko was sworn in (paywall) as the country’s fifth president after his landslide victory last month. He made clear that Ukraine will not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea, but agreed to start peace talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

British business confidence reached a multi-year high. More manufacturers in the UK are confident about their growth prospects over the next quarter than at any time since the beginning of the financial crisis. All sectors of industry had a positive outlook, and domestic demand was a significant factor.

Quartz obsession interlude

Annalisa Merelli on how Italian soccer stickers turned kids into capitalists. ““Ce l’ho, ce l’ho, mi manca”—“Got it, got it, need it”—is the refrain that has introduced Italian kids to the joys of supply and demand for decades. It is the equivalent to the stock market’s “buy, sell,” but it accompanies the exchange of a very different, though similarly precious commodity: Panini stickers, which contain portraits of the soccer players taking part in the World Cup.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Obama is an enemy of the free press. His administration has hounded and snooped on more journalists than any president since Nixon.

The UK in its present form is unacceptable. Whatever the result of the referendum on Scottish independence, much has to change.

Uber’s $18.2 billion valuation is crazy. Its investors are forgetting the company’s drivers have no loyalty to Uber (paywall), and competition is growing.

GM’s culture of “cost control” was the company’s tragic flaw. Engineers were told to deliver on time or take responsibility for the domino effect of delays.

The best hedge funds operate on secrecy. The “more important you are, the less you need to be liked, and the less you need to be seen”, one manager explains.

Surprising discoveries

This dating app could be safer for women. Women can join Wyldefire freely, but men have to be invited by a female friend.

You will be able to charge your iPhone 6 wirelessly. And other rumors.

A computer passed the Turing Test. Pretending to be a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, the program convinced the judges that it was a human.

Nike sponsors most of the World Cup’s most marketable stars. That’s even though the tournament’s official sponsor is Adidas.

There’s poetry in Twitter. Bots are on the lookout for haikus, anagrams, and now pangrams (sentences that contain every letter of the alphabet).

Investors are gaining confidence. Hostile takeovers are at a 14-year high (paywall), while Wall Street’s “fear gauge” is at a seven-year low (paywall).

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

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