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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Halliburton earnings, UK GDP, Samsung profits, racy divorces

By Naomi Rovnick
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.

Report card on the UK economy. Britain releases fourth quarter GDP numbers today. Experts believe the economy contracted by 0.1% in the last three months of last year. If so, a further contraction in the next quarter would push the UK into an unprecedented, triple-dip recession and bring it closer to losing its prized AAA credit rating.

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

Samsung wiped the floor with its competitors. The Korean tech powerhouse posted a record quarterly operating profit—though its shares then dropped after it warned that a strong currency could cut its profits this year. As Quartz’s Simone Foxman writes, Samsung’s success has a lot to do with its being the anti-Apple.

Thailand won’t get into a currency war. The nation’s finance minister said that despite foreign investment inflows caused by the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, it would not purposely weaken its currency and risk a repeat of the 1997 Asian crisis—when Thailand devalued the baht to boost its economy but left companies saddled with dollar-denominated debt.

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.

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 health and psychological care 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 could block Korean reunification. Beijing might have plans to make the resource-rich hermit kingdom of North Korea its own “tributary province.”

Surprising discoveries

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

By 2050, we could be flying from Europe to Australia in 90 minutes. Wait, haven’t we heard things like this a couple of times before?

If you think you’re good at multi-tasking, you’re probably wrong.

Americans buy mattresses designed for good sleep more than good sex. Or so investors seem to believe.

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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