Quartz Daily Brief—EU looks east, Japan’s economic data, Alibaba picks NYSE, Escobar’s rogue hippos

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What to watch for today

Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova tiptoe away from Russia. Ukraine will finally sign a substantial trade agreement with the EU that helped set off the showdown with Russia in the first place. Georgia and Moldova will do the same.

The EU takes its economic pulse. Data releases are due on business climate, economic sentiment, and consumer and industrial confidence, in a good indication of whether the European Central Bank’s newly aggressive measures have had any effect.

An explanation for Tesco’s investors. CEO Philip Clarke will tell shareholders what he’s doing to turn the ailing supermarket chain around. The company recently reported its worst quarterly profits in 40 years and Moody’s downgraded its debt to just two notches above junk status.

The US government holds a bitcoin auction. The US Marshals Service is selling nearly 30,000 bitcoins—worth about $17.4 million at face value—that were seized from the shuttered Silk Road online marketplace. The auction is expected to attract interest from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and beyond.

While you were sleeping

Alibaba spurned the Nasdaq for the NYSE. The offering, which could raise $15-20 billion and value the company at up to $200 billion, is a big win for the New York Stock Exchange, which has been seeking more technology listings.

Japan released a round of healthy economic data. Unemployment dropped to 3.5% in May, from 3.6% a month earlier, while another key employment figure showed the highest ratio of available jobs to jobseekers in more than 20 years. The consumer price index fell from 1.5% in April to 1.4% in May, but that was roughly in line with the Bank of Japan’s prediction (paywall) that inflation would dip before reviving in the summer.

South Korea’s factory output took a surprise dive. Industrial production shrank by a seasonally adjusted 2.7% in May, well below expectations, in the worst monthly decline since 2008. The sudden drop raises fears that the country’s recovery is stalling due to a strong currency and weak domestic demand.

Concerns grew over Australia’s housing bubble. Christopher Kent, assistant governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, told parliament he wouldn’t welcome further strong house price growth after they rose by an annualized 10.9% in the first quarter.

Argentina defied a court ruling to pay down debt. In the latest twist in the country’s ongoing debt saga, it deposited a billion dollars to pay off its restructured bonds. That’s despite a US court order that prohibits it from paying those notes before other bonds it previously defaulted on.

GoPro’s stock price surged after its Nasdaq debut. Investors seem to like the newly public extreme sports camera company. Its shares popped 30% after its initial offering at $24, which was at the high end of its previously announced price range.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on the failed efforts to blend high fashion and wearable tech. ”So far, fashion collaborations have failed to deliver for wearable technology. That’s because the medium—unlike Target towels or H&M dresses—calls for more than just high-end branding delivered on the cheap. Making technology truly wearable is not just a matter of dressing up a device. It will require vigorous innovation that wholly integrates form with function.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US Supreme Court finally gets the internet. The court showed itself to be quite tech-savvy with its narrow ruling against the TV-streaming service Aereo.

The Aereo decision could actually kill the cloud. The court tried to exempt cloud-based services from its ruling but failed to provide a rationale, which could hurt innovation in a number of ways.

There are three possible explanations for why we haven’t encountered aliens. We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re screwed.

Hong Kong is an ugly lesson for Taiwan. Beijing’s creeping powers are a stark warning of what might happen if it unifies with the mainland.

Silicon Valley needs to disrupt itself. The self-proclaimed meritocracy is a “make-believe cult;” in reality it’s an elitist, homogeneous club.

Surprising discoveries

Pablo Escobar’s hippos are a problem in Colombia. The late drug baron’s imported herd is taking over the countryside.

Footballers like it hot. They actually run faster and pass better as the temperature rises.

A swarm of tiny drones could 3D-print your house. Little flying robots called “minibuilders” might eventually replace construction crews.

Sitting is so bad for you that even exercise won’t help. But there are ways to mitigate the harmful effects of the modern mode of work.

People will pay twice as much for artistically-arranged salads. The salads also taste better.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, explanations of the Fermi Paradox, and hippo eradication strategies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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