Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—EU vs. Google, China’s slowdown, Nokia buys Alcatel-Lucent, space espresso

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What to watch for today

Will the EU offer a verdict on Google? While on a trip to the US, the EU’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, is expected to give at least some detail of its case against the search giant. The EU has spent five years investigating possible antitrust issues stemming from Google’s dominance in Europe. 

Etsy prices its IPO. The online marketplace for artisanal goods is expected to IPO at between $14 and $16 a share. That would let the firm raise as much as $267 million (paywall) at a valuation of $1.8 billion, making it one of the largest tech offerings this year.

Workers protest low wages in over 200 US cities. McDonald’s workers—including the 90% of US staff left out of the company’s recent pay-raise announcement—will join Walmart employees and many others calling for a $15-per-hour minimum wage in the United States.

Narendra Modi takes the stage in Canada. Some 10,000 people are expected to hear the Indian prime minister speak at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Modi is winding up a global tour with the first visit by an Indian head of state to Canada in more than 40 years.

What does QE look like, ECB-style? The European Central Bank meets in Cyprus and expands on the gritty details of its $1.2 trillion program underway to stimulate the European economy by buying sovereign bonds.

Earnings, earnings, earnings. Since 2010 Bank of America, the country’s second-largest bank, has paid out a total of $70 billion in litigation relating to the financial crisis; analysts expect a strong first-quarter thanks to an end to litigation costs. Video streaming company Netflix is also expected to report a good quarter, while storage company SanDisk and Delta Airlines also reveal their latest results.

While you were sleeping

China’s first-quarter GDP fell to 7%. The slowest annual growth rate in almost six years was in line with expectations, but data for the month of March still offered glum news. Retail sales, fixed-asset investment, and industrial output all slowed to multi-year lows, putting more pressure on China’s central bank to roll out new stimulus measures.

Nokia buys France’s Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. The all-stock deal will allow Nokia to better compete with telecom equipment rivals Huawei and Ericsson. The French government backed the deal on the condition that Nokia doesn’t cut jobs.

Danone beat expectations. Strong growth in baby food and bottled water sales helped the world’s largest yoghurt maker report an increase of 4.8% in first-quarter sales compared with a year earlier, ahead of expectations of 4.6% growth. Danone maintained its like-for-like sales growth target of between 4% and 5% for the year.

Samsung created an Apple screens division. The South Korean electronics manufacturer now has a 200-person team to deal only with screens for products such as iPads and MacBooks, according to Bloomberg. That’s another step in Samsung’s transition from its goal of dominating the smartphone market to becoming a screen and semiconductor supplier.

Barack Obama grudgingly gave Congress a say in the Iran deal. The US president agreed to a bill that gives the Republican-controlled Congress the power to review an agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Alibaba prepared for an online pharmacy boom. The e-commerce giant said it would combine its Tmall pharmacy business with Alibaba Health Information Technology, in a $2.5-billion deal that would raise its stake in the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary from 38% to 56%. The Chinese government is expected to approve online prescription drug sales later this year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jack Aldwinckle on open-sourced soda-bottle street lamps. “The lights’ beauty lies in their simplicity: A 3-watt LED lamp is connected to a controller and a battery pack, which is powered by a small solar panel. The light fixture’s protective casing is an old plastic soda bottle. Each lamp costs around 176,000 Colombian pesos ($70) to build, and nothing to run.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It makes no sense that 87% of Americans think they’re ”middle class.” It’s because the label is aspirational, not economic.

German luxury cars are too affordable… Booming sales of BMWs and Audis are eroding their exclusivity.

…and so is the Hong Kong dollar. To stabilize its economy, Hong Kong should delink its currency from the US dollar and let it appreciate.

Yanis Varoufakis is over-reliant on his charisma. Greece’s finance minister desperately needs a coherent plan.

Being short is good for you. Despite research linking shortness to heart disease, short people live longer and healthier lives.

Surprising discoveries

SpaceX delivered the first espresso maker to the ISS. Developed by Lavazza, the coffee machine is named ISSpresso.

In-flight refueling could make flying cheaper and greener. Using the military’s techniques would require much less fuel overall.

A breath test can detect stomach cancer. And catching it early would dramatically improve survival rates.

NASA is working on its own electric car. The golf cart-like vehicle has special wheels that let it pull off some impressive tricks.

Armadillos are bullet-proof. A gunshot ricocheted off one animal’s carapace and wounded the shooter’s mother-in-law.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, armadillo combat gear, and pour-over space coffee to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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