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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Halliburton, Nokia profits, Brexit blackmail, racy divorces

By Gideon Lichfield
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Halliburton falls in the fourth-quarter. The oil services company, an industry bellwether, is expected to report sharply lower earnings after being hit by a slowdown in US natural gas drilling, while its rival Schlumberger has fared better with more business in Asia.

Czech elections, round two. The candidates in the two-day run-off of the Czech Republic’s first direct election for president are former premier Milos Zeman and foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, a pro-EU prince whose second-place finish in the first round surprised analysts.

Mubarak, Mursi, what’s the difference? On the second anniversary of Egypt’s street uprising against the long-serving dictator Hosni Mubarak, the political opposition plans massive protests against his successor, Mohammed Mursi.

While you were sleeping

Nokia made some money—and it’s keeping it. The Finnish company posted a profit of $270 million in the fourth quarter, reversing a $1 billion loss in the same quarter in 2011. But revenues fell 20% as sales of both smartphones and feature phones plummeted, and Nokia suspended its dividend for the first time in recent memory in order to husband cash.

Europeans told to get out of Benghazi. The British, German and Netherlands governments said there is an imminent threat to westerners and advised their citizens to leave the Libyan city. The warnings came against the backdrop of broader upheaval in the region—last week’s deadly kidnapping of gas plant employees in Algeria, and France’s offensive against militants in Mali.

Ukraine and Shell are now family. The Dutch firm signed a $10 billion, 50-year shale gas deal to operate the Yuzivska field in east Ukraine. The deal gives Shell access to Europe’s third-largest shale reserves and Ukraine a way to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. “I believe we have become almost relatives,” Ukraine’s president told Shell’s CEO.

Kerry vowed to prevent an Iranian bomb. Senator John Kerry, the White House nominee as secretary of state, emphasized that time is running short to stop Tehran from producing a working nuclear weapon.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn’t care if selling more iPads means selling fewer laptops. “The overall PC market is much larger than the market for either Macs or iPads, so if Cook is right, there is tremendous opportunity for Apple to grow both market share and revenue as consumers ditch PCs for tablets. But that also means that Apple’s real competition is no longer other PC manufacturers but makers of tablets, particularly Samsung and Google.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Will the US see any peace dividend when it withdraws from Afghanistan? There may not be much, if you count the cost of mental health care costs for returning veterans.

Sending CEOs to prison doesn’t deter them from committing crimes. Not when the rewards are so high.

David Cameron’s “Brexit blackmail” was a step too far. He doesn’t really want to take Britain out of the EU, but European leaders might just call his bluff.

China doesn’t trust Russia to supply its natural gas. But how about how about hydropower? 

Surprising discoveries

And you thought the Victorians were boring. A UK website has uploaded racy records of 17th and 18th century divorce cases.

There’s a good use for bad grammar. It’s a convenient way to create strong passwords.

If you think you’re good at multitasking, you’re probably wrong.

Monogamy may be a path to greater fertility. At least in owl monkeys. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and tips on multi-tasking to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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