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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US rocket explodes, Fed ends QE, Facebook scares investors, ancient virus released

What to watch for today

Bye bye, bond purchases. The US Federal Reserve will likely announce the end of its quantitative easing asset-purchase program. The Fed warned in July (paywall) that it would terminate the program this month, and few expect it to waver despite gloomy global data.

Scotland tries to move on. Nicola Sturgeon, who replaces Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond (no fish jokes, please), will tell an audience of 12,000 that nationalists must respect the vote against Scottish independence (paywall). SNP membership has more than tripled since the referendum last month.

Black gold update. The US government issues its weekly update on America’s stockpile of crude oil, which a Bloomberg survey suggests will be at its highest since July as prices have plummeted.

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

While you were sleeping

A commercial rocket exploded at takeoff in Virginia. An Antares rocket built by Orbital Sciences suffered a “catastrophic failure” shortly after launching at 6:22 p.m. local time on the east coast of the United States, resulting in an enormous fireball; no one was reported injured. It was the first failure of a commercial space mission since NASA began hiring private space firms to carry supplies to the International Space Station.

Facebook met expectations, but scared investors. Revenue and earnings were roughly in line, and monthly active users rose 14%. But the social media giant warned of an impending spending binge (“We plan on 2015 being a significant investment year”), and its shares plummeted by about 9% in after-hours trading.

Japanese industrial output rose the most since January. Production rose 2.7% in September from a year earlier, higher than a predicted 2.2%. The new data arrive as prime minister Shinzo Abe tries to decide whether Japan can stomach another sales tax rise.

The Iraqi peshmerga started its first Syrian mission. One hundred and fifty Kurdish fighters received permission to travel through Turkey to join the fight against Islamic State militants in the Syrian border town of Kobani. Turkey reiterated it will not send ground troops to support the Syrian Kurds, nor will it allow Kurds from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to fight.

Marvel mapped out a diverse future, but risks a superhero glut. The Disney-owned moviemaker unveiled a slate of nine movies it has planned through 2019, including standalone films featuring female (“Marvel Girl”) and African-American (“The Black Panther”) superhero protagonists. Including films on the way from rival DC Entertainment, that makes 29 superhero movies scheduled for the next six years.

No appetite for risk in Macau. Casino operator Wynn Macau said third-quarter operating profit was down to $942 million (paywall), from $997 million last year, and that big-spending clients were down by 17.4% over the year. A crackdown on government corruption in mainland China is squeezing the former Portuguese colony.

An appetite for shopping in the US. 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.

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

Mindlessness is underrated. Zoning out helps creativity, and who wants to be mindful all the time, anyway?

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

Hungary’s internet tax isn’t that crazy. Every country taxes consumption; what’s so different about the web?

The US should have a national typeface. Sweden does.

Surprising discoveries

This could end badly. Scientists infected plants with an ancient virus found in 700-year-old caribou feces.

The US national anthem ends with a question mark. It expresses “a sense of fear and anxiety” to reflect its wartime origins.

A new app for tweeting. Warblr hopes to identify birds by their distinctive calls.

Drunk people are highly rational. A study found them to be less emotional when dealing with moral dilemmas.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, frozen caribou feces, and US typeface nominations (no Comic Sans) to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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