Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—HKBN shares, SoulCycle IPO rumors, the falling euro, a stand against selfie sticks

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What to watch for today

HKBN shares hit the market. The broadband provider raised $750 million last week after pricing its IPO. Today the stock begins trading (paywall) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The Philae lander’s wakeup call. Remember when a space probe with 4 billion miles under its belt landed on a comet, only to run out of batteries? Scientists are going to attempt to bring the probe back to life.

Lufthansa publishes full-year results. Europe’s largest airline, which scrapped its dividend (paywall) last month, will update investors on the effects of cheap oil, the weak euro, and the company’s recent sale of its IT unit to IBM.

A Volkswagen factory expansion. The German automaker’s largest plant is in Wolfsburg, Germany, but its second largest, in Puebla, Mexico, is no slouch—it produces half a million cars a year. When the company announces full-year results today, expect it to also unveil plans to make the Puebla plant even grander (paywall).

US retail sales for February. Considering that consumers are responsible for 70% of the American economy, plenty of eyes will be on the latest installment of the US government’s monthly retail sales data. Research firm Retail Metrics expects a 1.9% gain year-over-year, after an 0.8% drop in January.

While you were sleeping

Google opened its first Google Shop in London. It sounds like Google’s answer to the Apple store, only it’s less a store than it is a dedicated space inside a location of the UK brick-and-mortar chain Currys PC World.

An IPO rumor mill started spinning. Reuters reports that SoulCycle, the popular US indoor stationary cycling chain, has retained Goldman Sachs as an adviser as it prepares for a worldwide expansion—and as its founders prepare to cash out.

Most big banks passed muster with the Federal Reserve. But not Deutsche Bank or Santander, which were barred from raising dividends or buying back stock after their capital distribution plans got rejected by the US central bank. Even banks that passed the test shouldn’t be breathing easy, though.

Online privacy advocates notched a win in the Netherlands. For a decade, the trail of data generated by a web browsing session has—by law—been stored by internet providers, in case police should need the information to investigate a crime. But the law got struck down by a Dutch district court, which called it a violation of European Union privacy rights.

The euro marched onward toward parity with the dollar. Today it fell to a 12-year low against the US currency. At $1.06, the euro has now shed more than a fifth of its value against the dollar since July. It last traded at parity with the dollar in 2002.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on pharma’s biggest nightmare. “For years, drug makers have feared an onslaught of competition from ‘biosimilars,’ the generic version of drugs that are made by living organisms. It finally arrived last week when the FDA approved Novartis’s Zarxio, a near copy of Amgen’s blood cancer drug Neupogen and the first biosimilar in the US.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We’re all suffering from opinion fatigue. These days, everyone is expected to have a take on everything—and our brains simply can’t cope.

The world needs to be connected. We can’t wait around for private companies like Google and Facebook to do it; governments need to invest in infrastructure (paywall).

US Congressional Republicans don’t know what they’re doing. Say they get their way and a deal with Iran on its nuclear program gets derailed: What happens next?

Modi is making the right moves. India has tons of potential (paywall), but tapping it means the government must do its part—and prime minister Narendra Modi sees that.

Tikrit is still ripe for atrocities. Even if ISIL gets run out of town, there’s ample risk that sectarian violence will heat up.

Surprising discoveries

There’s an easy way to beat the market. Just invest in companies that have happy employees.

We now know how chameleons change colors. Our reptilian friends have a layer of skin cells containing nanocrystals, which can be consciously manipulated.

Death by firing squad might return to the US. State lawmakers in Utah passed a bill approving use of the method when supplies of lethal injections run short; the governor has not yet said whether he’d sign such a measure into law.

Russia has softened the penalties for bribery. President Vladimir Putin signed a law lowering the fines one can expect to receive if caught either making or taking bribes.

You can’t use a selfie stick at France’s palace of Versailles. Nor at Britain’s National Gallery in London. Cultural institutions are taking a stand against the scourge of selfie sticks.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jealously inducing office perks, and thick rubber band bound envelopes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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