Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Apple crushes expectations, Baltimore violence erupts, Time Warner’s next suitor, ridiculously strong robots

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What to watch for today

The US Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting. Investors are eager for clues about when the US will raise its interest rates. The minutes from March’s meeting show the current thinking is to wait until September at least.

Preliminary UK GDP numbers. Estimates range from 0.3% to 0.5% quarter-on-quarter growth (paywall), a slowdown from last quarter’s 0.6% increase. The numbers will provide a final update on the UK economy two weeks ahead of a close general election.

LG tries to take a bite out of Samsung. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is being called the best smartphone running Google’s Android operating system, but that may change when LG’s new G4 is released. Details have already been leaked, but a press conference will shed some light on availability and pricing.

A heavy day of earnings. Here’s a taste of the companies opening up their books today: Coach, Daimler, Ford, GoPro, JetBlue, Kraft Foods, Merck, Orange, Panera Bread, Pfizer, Revlon, T-Mobile US, Twitter, and UPS.

While you were sleeping

Apple exceeded expectations again. Net income for the company’s fiscal second quarter rose to $13.6 billion, from $10.2 billion a year earlier, as it sold more than 60 million iPhones. China became the company’s largest market, but Apple declined to disclose sales numbers for its new watch. Quartz was live-charting the earnings report.

Rioting erupted in Baltimore. An angry protest following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody earlier this month, turned violent, leading to 27 arrests and 15 police injuries. The city declared a curfew, and Maryland governor Larry Hogan deployed the National Guard.

Time Warner Cable is looking for another merger. The telecom company is open to combining with Charter Communications, a smaller peer that made an unsolicited buyout offer two years ago, according to Reuters. Time Warner’s proposed $45 billion acquisition by Comcast was called off last week due to regulatory opposition.

Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD plugged into profits. The world’s biggest electric bus maker, part-owned by Warren Buffet, posted a nine-fold increase in first-quarter profit, to 120.9 million yuan ($19.4 million), on rising demand for its “new-energy” vehicles. The company also won a contract to produce 10 buses for California’s Long Beach Transit Authority, with an option to make another 50.

Worrying signs from Japan’s economy. Retail sales fell by a worse-than-expected 9.7% in March, raising doubts about consumer confidence and putting more pressure on the central bank to introduce new stimulus measures. The year-on-year decline was partially caused by a surge in spending last March, as consumers raced to beat a looming sales tax increase.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the new normal in oil. “The last 11 months have been an unlikely journey for oil, with its widely unanticipated price dive, Saudi Arabia’s uncharacteristic refusal to stem the bloodletting, and financial havoc for petro-powers and energy companies. But as improbable as the journey has been, it is not over. A number of leading analysts say that OPEC has been rendered largely impotent in this new age. The US, they say, is oil’s new czar.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Nonviolence is the right answer to the wrong question. In cities like Baltimore, officials are trying to dodge the blame for police brutality.

Women shouldn’t strive for eternal beauty. Eternal coolness is a much better goal—embracing one’s age instead of defying it.

Drone warfare is a human rights catastrophe. US military officials often don’t know or care if civilians are harmed.

Social capital is the key to happiness. That’s why Northern Europe is home to some of the happiest countries in the world.

Surprising discoveries

Kmart has a guide for dressing in “normcore” style. The fashion trend is about looking as plain as possible.

Blame evolution for your aching back. Lower back pain sufferers have spines that look like a chimpanzee’s.

Scientists have created super strong robots. The strongest can pull more than 2,000 times its weight.

One in four Americans were “totally sedentary” last year. Some 83 million people didn’t partake in any physical activities (paywall).

There’s more than one way to plug a pothole. A Manchester street artist named “Wanksy” calls attention to them with suggestive graffiti.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, normcore couture, and weight-lifting robots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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