Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Chinese hackers, Dell earnings, Japan’s central banker, neo-Nazi fashion

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Dude, you’re getting Dell’s earnings. Expect a rough earnings call with disappointing income from the company’s faltering personal computer business. It’s no wonder that founder Michael Dell is willing to sell his stock at a discount as part of his plan to take the company private and reorganize it.

How the US housing sector is doing. The National Association of Home Builders releases its monthly report on sentiment in the housing industry. Analysts hope to see the upward trend of the past few months continue as the sector slowly recovers.

Retail sales in Rio and wholesale trade in Ottawa. In Brazil, analysts hope consumer spending picked up in December, signaling a stronger year of growth ahead after the economy barely expanded 1% in 2012. Canada releases wholesale trade figures, but considering December’s disappointing manufacturing sales figures, wholesale sales in Canada are unlikely to be perky.

Also reporting earnings: Troubled book retailer/e-reader manufacturer Barnes & Noble, Spanish construction giant Ferrovial, and Marriott International.

While you were sleeping

Confirmation that the Chinese army hacked the US. A report from Mandiant, a computer security firm, says cyber attacks on American companies and the US government originated from this Chinese military unit building in Shanghai.

Nestlé fell victim to horsemeat. Europe’s food mislabeling scandal widened with the Swiss food giant taking “beef” pasta meals off shelves in Italy and Spain after it found traces of horse DNA.

More waiting for Japan’s new central banker. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not nominate a new governor until he returns from a trip to the US on Sunday. An announcement had been expected this week. In another sign of disagreement, the finance minister said Japan had no plans to buy foreign bonds through a central bank fund a day after Abe told the Diet it was a possibility.

South China Morning Post had a rollercoaster ride. Hong Kong’s investors were all over SCMP Group Ltd, driving its shares up 23% on speculation that its owner, Robert Kuok, was planning to buy it out. It turned out he’s planning to buy or merge with another media group. The stock duly fell 7.4% by close. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Disneyland finally turned a profit.

BP will go to court. Chances of a settlement receded as BP failed to reach an agreement with the US Department of Justice about the extent of its liability in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Prosecutors say BP’s bill could be up to $21 billion; its lawyers predict well below $5 billion.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the diamond industry’s troubled present and hopes for a sparkling future. “Since De Beers first started marketing diamonds in China in 1994, when few people were wealthy enough to afford them, they have become almost as much of a mainstay in marriages as they are in the United States. Four out of five couples in Beijing and Shanghai splurged on diamond engagement rings in 2012. In 2011, China became the world’s second-biggest consumer of diamonds after the United States and some predict the country will pass the US market in 2016.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Obama’s plan to eradicate global poverty is within reach. It’s precisely as far away as the moon.

Everything you know about 3-D printing is wrong. Maybe not everything, but it’s still more complicated than you think.

The other 99%: Yes, you can succeed with an MBA from a program that’s not in the top five.

“I still do not believe that the Chinese ‘recovery’ is for real.” Questioning the sustainability of China’s credit-driven growth.

Surprising discoveries

How do you recognise a neo-Nazi? Pull down his collar and look for the label of obscure German brand Thor Steinar.

A Chinese government official was offered 200,000 yuan (about $32,000) to swim in a river. The only catch? The river looks like this.

A plagiarism scandal rocks Europe’s premiere song contest. Did Germany’s Eurovision entrants rip off last year’s winning tune?

Russian businessman’s body found in a barrel of cement. Yes, they still settle scores the old way.

George Soros made $1 billion in three months betting Japan’s currency would tumble. Not necessarily surprising, but still.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Eurovision competition songs, and diamonds to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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