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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Alibaba’s unveiling, Scotland’s reality check, Kindles galore, motorized trousers

By Zach Wener-Fligner

2014-15 Fellow. Quartz Things team.

This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Alibaba shares the love. The Chinese e-commerce giant will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “BABA.” The company priced shares in its IPO at $68 after Thursday’s market close; it could raise a record-setting $25 billion on a $165 billion valuation.

Scotland gets real. Results of the country’s election for independence, likely boasting the biggest voter turnout in Scottish history, will be announced “around breakfast time” in the UK. The markets bet on the “no” vote winning out; Microsoft’s prediction engine agreed.

All hail the new iPhone. Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are out today in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the UK. Customers bought a record 4 million phones on the first day pre-orders were available, setting a pace to best Apple’s previous high of 9 million iPhone 5 sales in an opening weekend. Here’s how to decide which one to buy.

Hold onto your volatility hats. Four stock futures and options contracts expire today in a quarterly phenomenon called “quadruple witching,” which often leads to frantic trading and market gyrations. Add to that the market-moving Scottish election results and Alibaba IPO, and the ride looks even rockier.

While you were sleeping

Microsoft fired 2,100 employees. This was the second round of layoffs in a long-term plan announced in July to cut 18,000 jobs, or 14% of the company’s total workforce. The housecleaning is an attempt to streamline after the April acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division, which added 25,000 employees to Microsoft’s payroll.

US stocks hit all-time highs. The Dow jumped 0.56% to 17,252.8 and the S&P rose 0.44% to 2,010.34, both new records. The markets vaulted off a substantial drop in US jobless claims and the Fed’s announcement that interest rates will stay low in the near future.

Larry Ellison is out as Oracle’s CEO. The surprise shift is effective immediately. Ellison becomes executive chairman of the board and chief technology officer. Two Oracle executives will jointly fill his slot as CEO: Safra Catz and Mark Hurd.

The Islamic State released a video of a captive British journalist. In a roughly three-minute video posted on social media sites, a man identified himself on-camera as John Cantlie, a reporter who had worked for the Sunday Times, the Sun, and the Sunday Telegraph. In the video, he promises to “convey some facts” about the Sunni Muslim extremist group in future videos to counter Western portrayals.

Amazon is awash in Kindles. The e-book purveyor announced the release of six new or upgraded devices, including a $199 high-end e-reader and a $79 touch-screen tablet. The luxe version, the thinnest-ever e-reader that mimics paper books, is aimed at heavy readers; the low-end version targets nascent e-reader markets like China, Japan, and Germany. Devices begin shipping in October, in time for the holiday rush.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why Homer Simpson’s beer mantra is a lot like China’s approach to real estate. “[J]ust like alcohol, China’s property construction sector—which [the country] relies on to drive up to a fifth of its GDP—is at once “the cause of, and solution to” if not all, then many, of its economic problems. That’s because even though this over-reliance makes the country’s economy unusually vulnerable to home-sale slumps—and financial risks—the government has in the past rescued its swooning economy by—you guessed it—encouraging more real estate investment.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Vladimir Putin welcomes the rumor-mongering. Whether or not his comments about invading the capitals of Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Romania were taken out of context, their leakage helps the Russian leader in his bullying ways.

Ken Burns doesn’t understand the Roosevelts. The documentarian’s latest is heavy on character but flat on politics.

Midlife crises are biologically coded. We should acknowledge their existence and adjust to cope.

Scottish independence wouldn’t be so bad. It would be good for health care, decrease inequality and make England more competitive.

Interning is the new volunteering. It looks good on a resume, and interns are less prone to flaking out.

Surprising discoveries

South Koreans are spending over $100 a pop on job application mugshots. Thirty-four percent of surveyed recruiters in the country said the most important aspect of a resume was the photo.

Dogs can be pessimists. Though it’s unclear how common it is to see the water bowl as half-empty.

Motorized trousers could help stroke victims walk. The so-called “exoskeleton” under development by Harvard researchers looks pretty stylish, to boot.

North Korea wrote a 50,000-page report on its human rights record. It concluded that things are going pretty well. The UN disagrees.

A shopping cart was named America’s top invention of the year. It uses a design built for emergency medical workers to help lift groceries into your car.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, human rights records, and mugshots to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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