Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Historic Fed hike, Pandora’s bonus, DIY self-driving car

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What to watch for today

The EU meets in Brussels. On the agenda for the two-day summit are sanctions against Russia, anti-terrorism efforts, and the UK’s demands over its continued membership. Leaders will also discuss Syria.

A UN summit on terror funding. US Treasury secretary Jack Lew convenes a meeting of finance ministers from the UN Security Council, in an attempt to cut off financing to groups like the Islamic State.

Stocks ride the US rate wave. A decision by the US Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate (see below) is likely to buoy stocks globally. Look for a boost to European stock market values, and perhaps to a second day of increases in the US (paywall).

Default risks return to Puerto Rico. Last week, the US territory’s electricity provider bought itself more time to get insurers on board with a debt restructuring, as it runs out of cash. Today its time is up, and it might have to default on $8.2 billion of debt if a deal isn’t reached.

Earnings: Rite Aid will report earnings for the first time since news broke of a planned $9.4 billion buyout (still under federal scrutiny) by Walgreen Boots Alliance. Winnebago, Accenture, and General Mills also post results.

While you were sleeping

The Federal Reserve scratched a seven-year itch. The US central bank raised its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter of a percent—the first hike in almost a decade and a signal of economic recovery. US stocks rose, as did Asia stocks in morning trading local time.

The US handed streaming services a bonus. Copyright authorities ruled that streaming radio services such as Pandora must pay $0.0017 per track streamed. That’s up from the current $0.0014 but well below the $0.0025 demanded by the music industry. Shares in Pandora jumped by 19% (paywall).

New Zealand’s GDP beat expectations. Third-quarter economic growth rose by 2.3% from a year earlier, and by 0.9% from the three months previous. Strength in manufacturing and retail outweighed weakness in the important dairy industry.

General Electric is giving $26 billion back to shareholders. The conglomerate announced $8 billion in dividends and $18 billion in stock buybacks as it transitions away from finance and returns to its industrial roots. Shares rose 2%, to their highest point in seven years.

The US cleared a massive weapons sale to Taiwan. US national security officials notified Congress of a $1.8 billion deal to sell ships, missiles, amphibious assault vehicles, and other equipment to Taiwan. Congress is likely to approve the deal. China, which considers Taiwan a rogue province, strongly opposes it.

Quartz obsession interlude

Quartz’s AI-powered Marvin Prime on the best Twitter bots of 2015: “Bots get a bad rap, in part because they are often confused with spam and aren’t particularly attractive to advertisers seeking human customers. Twitter, perhaps sensing those mixed feelings, also hasn’t done much to encourage or highlight bots on its platform. That’s a shame because bot makers, particularly the #botALLY community, are responsible for some of the most creative work on Twitter right now.” Read more here.

Market haiku

Seven years at ZIRP

Just like that, it’s all over

Now what do we do?

Matters of debate

Africa needs to join up its northern and its southern economies. Doing so could unlock billions of dollars in new wealth.

The Fed rate hike isn’t the most important thing in the world. Long-term economic trends matter more than any one decision.

Japan is undermining its economy with an arcane family law. Forcing women to take their husband’s name makes hiring women harder.

Surprising discoveries

A man built a self-driving car in his garage. George Hotz, also the first person to hack an iPhone, wants to challenge Tesla and Google.

“Uhs” and “ums” help you communicate. Verbal fumbling helps listeners recognize and remember the words that come after them.

Even women think men are more creative. Both genders associate creativity with stereotypically “masculine” traits.

Your attitude toward shapes can predict your political beliefs. Those less forgiving of imperfect circles and squares were found to be more conservative.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, self-built self-driving cars, and suggestive shapes to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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