Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Farewell to QE, share buybacks, global Macy’s, violence genes

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What to watch for today

Bye bye, bond purchases. The US Federal Reserve will likely announce it’s ending quantitative easing, its asset-purchasing program. The Fed said in July (paywall) that it would terminate the program this month, and no one is expecting it to waver despite gloomy global data.

Where do we put it all? The US Energy Information Administration issues its weekly update on America’s stockpile of crude oil, which a Bloomberg survey suggests will be at its highest since July. Falling oil prices put a dent in BP’s third-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

Russia and Ukraine meet yet again. Natural gas remains a heated issue, and the next round of talks isn’t likely to fix anything. Especially not after Russia said it will “recognize” the result of elections that separatists in eastern Ukraine plan to hold this Sunday, over Ukraine’s objections.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Economic data to keep an eye on: French consumer confidence, Spanish retail sales, US jobless claims, and Japan’s industrial output. And as for earnings: Air France-KLM, Baidu, Deutsche Bank, DreamWorks, Fiat, Hyatt Hotels, Kraft Foods, LG Electronics, PetroChina, SodaStream, and Visa.

While you were sleeping

IBM will buy even more of its shares. Big Blue isn’t even done with its current buyback program, yet plans on buying $5 billion more. IBM has already spent $13.5 billion on itself this year, and intends to drop even more loot when it holds its board meeting next April. Here’s why buybacks are controversial (paywall).

Facebook met Wall Street’s expectations. Investors wanted to see $3.1 billion in revenue—the social network delivered $3.2 billion. Earnings came in at 30 cents a share, however, just a hair below the 31 cents analysts were forecasting. Monthly active users increased by 14%, and daily active users by 19% year-over-year.

Lloyds confirmed the bad news. Rumors of job cuts started floating around late last week, but now it’s official. As well as issuing 9,000 pink slips, the British bank will reduce the number of branches by 7%, as it invests more in online banking. Third-quarter profit jumped, though the nine-month total fell.

The World Bank called for help with Ebola. Its head, Jim Yong Kim, asked for an additional 5,000 medical professionals to come to Africa. “I hope health care professionals will understand that when they took their oath to become a health care worker it was precisely for moments like this.”

Americans smiled. Consumer confidence levels hit a seven-year-high according to The Conference Board. Analysts were expecting October’s reading to come in lower than September’s, but instead it came in at 94.5—a level not seen since October 2007. Cheap gas is probably helping.

Macy’s went international. Shoppers in the United Arab Emirates will soon—in 2018 if everything goes to plan—be able to enjoy the first Macy’s department store outside the US. The higher-end version of Macy’s—its sister company Bloomingdale’s—will also open its second store in the country.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on China’s uneasiness with mobile payments. “Alipay’s growth is being closely watched. Earlier this year, China’s central bank banned the use of ‘QR’ codes and barcode scans to make payments—exactly the system that many of Alipay’s 100 million mobile payment customers rely on. Apple has its own problems with the government, including a suspected government-backed hacking attack on iCloud users and a Beijing-imposed delay of the iPhone 6 launch.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Consumerism exists because it lets us convey wealth. We’re uncomfortable saying how much we earn but we like to show it in other ways (paywall).

The internet is moving back towards anonymity. Facebook’s latest app, Rooms, is part of a backlash against breaches of privacy.

Strong religious beliefs don’t turn people into terrorists. If they did, the US would be at war with Saudi Arabia.

It’s OK for Hungary to tax internet use. Every country taxes consumption; what’s so different about the web?

The US should have a national typeface. Sweden does.

Surprising discoveries

Digging a tunnel under a bank vault actually works. Hollywood is giving thieves good ideas.

Violence has a genetic component. Finnish researchers found two genes that make people 13 times more likely to have carried out violent crimes.

There’s an app for everything. Next year, phones will be able to identify which birds are (literally) tweeting.

Drunk people are highly rational. At least when it comes to death.

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” makes people happy. Even though the song is about a man’s murder confession.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, terrible Queen covers, and a shovel to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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