Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—HSBC’s parliamentary grilling, HP’s pre-breakup blues, Chicago’s “black site,” sheep-eating plants

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Motorola’s message in a box. The company will deliver mystery parcels to members of the press before making an “exciting announcement,” as Motorola launches its first new product since being purchased by Lenovo in October—a smart watch, perhaps?

HSBC answers to Parliament. CEO Stuart Gulliver and chairman Douglas Flint are scheduled to spend two hours with the Treasury select committee answering claims that Britain’s biggest bank helped clients evade taxes—and explaining the strange way Gulliver is paid.

Day two of Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony. On Tuesday, the US Federal Reserve chair told the Senate that the central bank will send a signal when it’s ready to start thinking about raising interest rates. Today Yellen speaks to the House of Representatives.

Is Target on target? The US retailer should see a jump in its fourth-quarter earnings, as it recovers from a crippling 2013 data breach. But it might also be losing business as more people shop online.

Wowo tries to wow US investors. The owner of 55tuan, known as the “Groupon of China,” starts trading on the Nasdaq (paywall), selling $60 million worth of shares at a $384 million valuation. The Wowo IPO is the company’s second attempt at tapping the public markets, after a 2011 IPO fell through.

While you were sleeping

HP struggled ahead of its breakup. The world’s second-biggest PC maker said fiscal first-quarter revenue was $29.6 billion, down 4.7% from a year earlier, and that full-year earnings would miss forecasts. HP blamed the strong dollar for its poor performance, but concerns over the cost of splitting the company in two also pushed the share price down as much as 6.7%.

China’s manufacturing took a turn for the better. The flash HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index was 50.1 in February, just above the 50.0 mark that separates expansion from contraction, and up from January’s 49.7. HSBC analysts suggested more government stimulus may be needed, as export demand fell sharply and domestic demand remains weak.

Moody’s cut Petrobras to junk. The ratings agency reduced the Brazilian state-controlled oil producer’s grade to Ba2, two notches below investment grade. Petrobras faces liquidity issues and is unable to access the debt markets during a massive corruption probe.

Hong Kong’s economy slowed. The city’s fourth-quarter GDP grew by 2.2%, down from 2.9% a year earlier, which the government blamed in part on political unrest caused by pro-democracy protests. Hong Kong plans to reduce taxes, boost welfare spending, and support tourism in an attempt to accelerate growth.

Chicago police reportedly operate a secret interrogation site. Some residents are denied legal counsel and are ”disappeared” by city police, shackled, and beaten at a warehouse, leading to at least one detainee death, according to the Guardian. Critics say it is the domestic equivalent to a CIA “black site.”

Bloodshed and terror in Nigeria. At least 26 people died in two separate bus station suicide bombings, which were blamed on the Islamist Boko Haram militia. Separately, soldiers from Chad, part of a coalition fighting Boko Haram, reportedly killed 207 militants close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.

Russia had its eyes on Ukraine for quite a while. A leaked strategy document called for Russia to annex parts of Ukraine even before president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, according to Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper. The document warned that Russia was at risk of losing control of Ukraine’s energy market and its gas pipelines.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Epstein on FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup in November and December. “The move, in reality, is an act of desperation to save the tournament, masked by FIFA’s flimsy justification that it’s what’s best for players and fans. It’s certainly not what fans want, if the response across social media is any indication. In many cases these fans are also die-hard fans of club teams. Some leagues, backed by the fans, are threatening a boycott.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

What if Vladimir Putin were nice? History actually wouldn’t look much different.

Silicon Valley is going backwards. The financial success of technology comes at a cost for gender and income equality (paywall).

ISIL is proof that the “war on terror” failed. And al-Qaeda affiliates have never been stronger.

Drones are the future of peacekeeping. A UN report argues they are more effective and less intrusive in combat zones.

Surprising discoveries

There is a plant in Chile that eats sheep. The thorns of Puya chilensis ensnare the woolly animals until they die, thus fertilizing the plant’s soil.

Googling health advice is a privacy risk. Sites like and are sharing your queries with marketers.

You probably don’t know a good airline deal when you see it. People think flight prices will be higher than they actually are.

There’s a wild party on the border of India and Pakistan. The Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally is “all beer and gunshots of joy.”

Beer doesn’t spill as easily as water. The foam on top dampens wave action. (It’s a similar story with coffee.)

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, carnivorous plants, and desert jeep rallies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.