Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China markets calm down, Iran deal moves ahead, a new geological epoch?

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What to watch for today and  over the weekend

We could be “days away” from Iran sanctions being lifted. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said Iran could satisfy its side of a US-brokered accord over nuclear enrichment very soon. “Iran literally shipped out its capacity, currently, to build a nuclear weapon,” he said. 

Egypt’s parliament meets for the first time in three years. The previous parliament, headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, was dissolved in 2012; the current legislature is instead dominated by loyalists of president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

South Africa’s ruling party celebrates its 104th anniversary. President Jacob Zuma will speak at the African National Congress’ birthday party, but there are fears the event may be disrupted by violent clashes between rival factions.

A closely-watched US unemployment report. With financial markets in chaos recently, the official update on the US labor market looms even larger. Analysts expect payroll additions of about 200,000.

While you were sleeping

China’s stock markets rebounded. The CSI 300 closed up by around 2% after China’s dodgy circuit breaker was abandoned and the central bank raised the value of the yuan. (Government funds buying up stocks might also have helped.) That bolstered European stocks in early trading.

Belgian police discovered a possible hideout of a Paris terror fugitive. Traces of explosives and a fingerprint of one of the men connected to the November attack were found in a Brussels apartment. The print belonged to Salah Abdeslam, whose rented car was found outside the Bataclan concert hall where 89 people were killed.

South Korea resumed blasting K-Pop to punish Kim Jong-un. After North Korea’s nuclear test, South Korea resumed loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts across the border at 11 locations, which blast news and weather reports as well as the latest hits.

Samsung offered a profit warning. The smartphone maker said it expects a fourth-quarter operating profit of 6.1 trillion won ($5.1 billion), lower than analysts expected. But the share price rose anyway; investors are aware that the growth in smartphone demand is waning.

The Central African Republic’s election went to a run-off. Two former prime ministers won 23.8% and 19.4% of the vote, respectively; neither claimed enough to win outright. The run-off is set for Jan. 31. It is hoped that a new president will end Christian-Muslim violence in the country.

Japanese wages fell for the first time in five months. Real earnings slipped by 0.4% in November (paywall) compared to a year earlier. That could be a bad sign for prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is determined to raise inflation through higher wages.

Europe’s industrial output took a dive. German production fell by 0.3% in November, well short of expectations of a 0.5% increase, and French production dropped by 0.9%. The decline has been spurred by a slowdown in emerging economies.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the troubling implications of supersized cargo ships. “The pressure on shippers to offer lower and lower rates led to something of an arms race for super-massive, super-efficient ships… But the slowed growth of trade following the Great Recession has led to over-capacity that may drive down prices below the point of survival for some in the industry.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The world should have more currencies—way more. We should have one currency per city.

There’s no good reason to build a hydrogen bomb today. Apart from to stroke a leader’s ego.

“The internet is obsessed with” is a phrase that needs to stop. Your corner of the web does not equal what the other 3 billion users are interested in.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists think the planet has entered a new geological epoch. Because of humans, we may be in the Anthropocene age.

The Israeli army recruits autistic teenagers. Their heightened perception is seen as an advantage.

A lab-grown testicle could help wounded soldiers have children. All that scientists need is a few millimeters of tissue.

Being easily embarrassed has its advantages. Blushing can make you more likable and even boost your sex appeal.

A new technology could harvest energy from walking. “Small bending motions” could become a new source of electricity.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, K-Pop punishments, and alternate currencies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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