Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Greeks bearing reforms, Euro zone deflation, Obama’s Keystone veto, kosher marijuana

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What to watch for today

Will Greece’s reforms pass muster? Last night, Greek officials submitted a list of reforms—on privatizations, tax collection, welfare spending, and much more—to narrowly meet a deadline for the four-month extension of  its international bailout. Euro zone finance ministers will hold a conference call this afternoon to decide whether to approve the proposed reforms.

Details on Hewlett-Packard’s impending split. HP will report fiscal first-quarter results, but analysts will pay more attention to how assets will be divvied up when it splits into two companies later this year.

Barack Obama nixes Keystone XL. A bill approving the $8 billion pipeline, which would carry more than 510,000 barrels of oil a day between Nebraska and Alberta, Canada, is expected to reach the president’s desk this morning. Obama plans to veto the measure without “drama or fanfare.”

Janet Yellen speaks to Congress. Her remarks are expected to signal how soon the Federal Reserve plans to hike its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2007.

While you were sleeping

Euro zone deflation deepened. Low oil prices contributed to a 0.6% drop in consumer prices in January from a year earlier, placing more urgency on quantitative easing measures due to begin next month. Excluding energy, consumer prices rose 0.6% in the period.

Hitachi laid down tracks in Europe. The Japanese conglomerate will pay Italian defense group Finmeccanica about €800 million ($900 million) for its loss-making train business and a stake in a much larger signaling unit.

Aer Lingus profits rose. The Irish airline said operating profit before exceptional items was €72 million ($82 million) in 2014, from €61 million a year earlier. The Irish government, which owns a 25% stake in Aer Lingus and says it is too profitable to sell, may use that success to bolster its opposition to a proposed buyout by British Airways’ parent, IAG.

Visa Europe paved the way for more mobile payments. The credit card company announced a “tokenization” technique that would make mobile payments safer and could facilitate Apple Pay and rival services in Europe. The technique is already in use in the US and will be introduced to European banks by mid-April.

New Zealand’s inflation outlook took a dive. Kiwi businesses expect the two-year inflation rate to be just 1.8%, the lowest expectations in over 15 years and down from an expected 2.1% last quarter, according to a central bank survey of companies.

BHP Billiton took a hit from cheaper oil. The global mining and petroleum giant said underlying profit for its fiscal first half was $5.35 billion, down 31% from a year earlier but above expectations of $5.1 billion. A 50% drop in oil prices was counterbalanced by strong performances in iron ore and other metals.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anne Quito on the Oscar-winning graphic designer behind The Grand Budapest Hotel. ”Annie Atkins meticulously hand-crafted almost every of piece of ephemera shown on camera. ‘Every piece I made began with showing Wes a collection of real examples from the period,’ she explained. ‘We looked at hundreds of pieces of design from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the last century as reference.'” Read more here.

Matters of debate

HSBC is too big. The bank is too global to regulate from the UK, and CEO Stuart Gulliver suggested it may be too large to effectively manage.

Scurvy could be the new diabetes. Limited access to food in the US means millions are at risk.

Malaysia Airlines MH370 didn’t crash into the ocean. It’s possible it landed in a Russian-operated Kazakh airbase.

Online porn is a privacy debacle waiting to happen. No matter the precautions, prepare for your browsing history to be made public. 

It’s time for China to drop the yuan-dollar peg. China’s economy is simply too big, and exposure to the dollar makes it more vulnerable.

Surprising discoveries

Next month’s four-hour solar eclipse will test Europe’s green grid. The continent relies on solar power for 11% of its energy (paywall).

Rats got a bum rap for the black death. Researchers believe Asian gerbils were the more likely culprits.

Medical marijuana may soon be kosher. But Orthodox rabbis are unlikely to okay it for recreational use.

A mummified monk was found inside a Buddha statue. Researchers believe he “self-mummified” around 1,000 years ago.

Frank Zappa ruined Jeb Bush’s wedding photos. Marvin Bush used the same film to shoot the rock star and his older brother’s nuptials.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bubonic gerbils, and fresh citrus fruit to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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