Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Apple excels, Twitter tanks, trigger-happy pooches

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What to watch for today 

Angela Merkel kicks off her visit to China. With the German chancellor’s eighth visit to the mainland since 2005, Germany is looking to outdo the UK’s recent business deals with China, which totaled £40 billion ($61 billion). Merkel will lead a business delegation—including new Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller—to the city of Hefei.

Speaking of Volkswagen… Before his trip, Mueller will have to face investors at the carmaker’s first quarterly earnings call since the diesel-emissions scandal. VW is expected to post an operating loss of €3.3 billion ($3.6 billion), from a similarly sized profit a year earlier, and it faces up to €78 billion in total costs from the scandal.

Republican candidates debate the economy. A two-hour debate entitled “Your Money, Your Vote” will probe 2016 presidential hopefuls on the economy. Ten big names will debate at midnight GMT; four others will get screen time at 10pm GMT.

Mark Zuckerberg takes questions in India. The Facebook CEO will host a townhall-style Q&A at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. His visit comes after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited the Facebook offices last month and discussed the growing partnership between Silicon Valley and India.

Earnings: PayPal and Hilton report earnings, as do Booz Allen Hamilton, Deutsche Bank, Fiat Chrysler, Garmin, GlaxoSmithKlein, GoPro, Hershey, Yelp, and Pacific Gas and Electric.

While you were sleeping

Apple added plenty more cash to its pile. The iPhone maker reported a fourth-quarter net income of $11.1 billion, far higher than last year’s $8.5 billion, due in part to a doubling in iPhone sales in China. Shares rose in after-hours trading but wobbled over concerns that quarterly China sales fell compared to the second quarter.

Twitter’s user growth tanked. The social network forecast a fourth-quarter revenue of no more than $710 million—well below analysts’ expectations of $740 million—and added only 4 million new monthly active users in the third quarter, also missing estimates. Shares fell by as much as 13%.

The US announced Iran was invited to the Syria talks. Iran’s presence at discussions among the US, Russia, and Arab and European powers would be a first, and the gesture signifies a further warming of US-Iran ties. But while Iranian leaders have been invited, it remains to be seen whether they’ll attend the meeting, to be held in Vienna later this week.

Walgreens Boots Alliance agreed to buy Rite Aid for $9.4 billion. The deal will combine the second- and third-largest US drugstore chains, respectively. Shares of both companies surged on the news, with Rite Aid shares up 38% on hopes that a merged company would be able to cut costs—though getting antitrust approval could be tough.

Mixed signals for China’s economy. The Minxin purchasing manager’s index—an alternative to the recently ceased Markit/Caixin preliminary index—put China’s manufacturing sector at 43.3 in October, up from 43 last month but well below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. Consumer sentiment also fell to a record low in October (paywall).

Japan’s retail sales looked a little brighter. Third-quarter sales rose 1.8%, marking a return to strength after growing a feeble 0.2% in the second quarter this year. Analysts believe rising wages and falling prices are finally taking effect, and that the central bank may not increase its stimulus measures on Friday.

Quartz obsession interlude

Corinne Purtill on how airlines handle sexual assault between passengers. “If a person is subjected to unwanted touching or other crime on board an aircraft, they should tell a flight attendant as soon as possible, Hughes said… He also suggested that women traveling alone avoid alcohol, sleep-inducing drugs, and sleep itself to guard against attacks on long flights.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

In the race for Africa, India and China aren’t all that different. India is struggling to differentiate itself from China.

Taylor Swift was wrong about Spotify. It isn’t undercutting the music industry, but it’s not leaving artists any better off.

Texting at your wedding is perfectly acceptable. This is how millennials socialize, so just deal with it.

Poland’s shift to the right is bad news for its economy. Newly empowered conservatives could squander recent gains.

Surprising discoveries

Fifty-three years ago today, the US ordered the launch of 32 nuclear warheads. Not all of them were aimed at Russia.

Russian police discovered half a metric ton of contraband caviar in a hearse. It was pulled over for speeding.

About one American per year is shot by a dog. Four of the 10 since 2004 occurred in Florida.

Earth needs more poop. As large species die off, the environment is losing a crucial source of phosphorus.

Drones make excellent leaf blowers. Just in case you needed a reason to buy one this Christmas.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, contraband caviar, and wedding selfies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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