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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Exxon and Chevron results, a Guantanamo release, spies don’t want Bond

By Richard Macauley

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Major powers discuss Syria. Representatives from Western nations will meet in Vienna along with those from Russia, Syria, and, for the first time, Iran. They will try to bridge differences over how to end Syria’s four-year civil war and how to reduce the threat of ISIL.

China, Japan, and South Korea try to make nice. Their leaders will meet together for the first time since 2012 in Seoul on Sunday, in a sign that tensions may be easing over historic Japanese war crimes.

Europe reports its inflation and unemployment data. Euro-zone consumer prices are expected to remain unchanged after falling 0.1% in September, while analysts will be hoping the long-term unemployment problem doesn’t appear to be permanent.

Big Oil suffers. Exxon Mobil and Chevron are expected to report lower third-quarter profits due to the drop in crude oil prices. Standard & Poor’s warned this week that doubts about the companies’ future cashflow could endanger their credit ratings.

More results: CVS, Moody’s, and MoneyGram are among those reporting quarterly earnings today.

While you were sleeping

A high-profile inmate was released from Guantanamo Bay. Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and British resident, is en route to London after spending 13 years in the controversial US prison in Cuba. Aamer was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, where he says he was performing charitable work.

AB Inbev raised its full-year forecast. The world’s largest brewer reported a third-quarter profit of $4.4 billion, slightly lower than expected and down from last year mainly due to currency swings. But sales of premium beers in the US boosted its revenue above expectations and were forecast to outpace inflation for the rest of the year.

Royal Bank of Scotland swung to a loss. The bank, 73% owned by the British government, reported a third-quarter operating loss of £134 million ($205.6 million), from a £1.1 billion profit a year earlier. RBS also warned that litigation costs, which contributed to its poor performance, could still grow.

Iran detained the first US citizen since the nuclear deal. Siamak Namazi, an advocate for diplomacy between the two countries, was jailed on Oct. 15, according to the New York Times (paywall). Iran recently approved a nuclear deal designed to reduce sanctions against it, negotiated in part with the US.

The US Senate approved a new debt ceiling. An early-morning vote passed a bill that will boost spending for military and domestic projects over the next two years, and avoid an unnecessary default on US debt. Some conservatives were concerned that the deal would give president Barack Obama a free reign to spend in his final year (paywall).

The Bank of Japan held off on extra stimulus. The central bank bet that its current measures will be enough to meet its 2% inflation target, once the effects of low oil prices are discounted. New data showed consumer prices—excluding energy and food—rose 0.9% in the year to September (paywall).

Taiwan’s economy took a battering from China. Third-quarter GDP shrunk by 1% compared to a year earlier, marking the first such drop since precisely six years ago. Weak demand from China has been hitting the export-dependent economy; last month its unemployment rate hit a 2015 high.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenny Anderson on the secret to learning math by failing productively. “The approach is both utterly intuitive—we learn from mistakes—and completely counter-intuitive: letting kids flail around with unfamiliar math concepts seems both inefficient and potentially damaging to their confidence.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

India is one of the world’s most intolerant countries. African expats face extreme violence and racism.

The Australian accent was spiked by alcohol. The slurring of inebriated forefathers has been passed down to the present day.

James Bond would make a horrible real-life spy. He lacks the emotional intelligence that MI6 now looks for in recruits.

We’re facing the end of craft beer. The industry is growing so fast it’s becoming unrecognizable.

Billionaires concerned about climate change should buy coal. And then keep it in the ground.

Surprising discoveries

South Korea is mocking Seoul’s new slogan. ”I.Seoul.U” doesn’t make sense in any language.

All tunnel-boring machines are named after women. Because the patron saint of mining is a woman.

A Canadian scientist is live-tweeting the sex lives of spiders. They like to take their time.

Almost everyone will catch herpes. The World Health Organization has confirmed it.

A US cop defused a tense situation with a dance-off. Even Obama commended the positive policing.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, if you.Seoul.us, and erotic spider-sex tweets to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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