Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US braces for snow storm, Google’s iPhone fee, Saudi Arabia bans chess

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What to watch for today and over the weekend

State visits all around. Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu visits German chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the refugee crises and the suicide bombing that killed 10 Germans in Istanbul. Meanwhile, Indian PM Narendra Modi hosts French president François Hollande for a two-day visit starting Sunday.

A major storm disrupts the US east coast. More than 500 flights have been cancelled ahead of a storm expected to bring over a foot (30 cm) of snow to cities from New York to Washington. Heavy rains are expected in the south.

Haiti goes to the polls. President Michel Martelly said that a run-off vote would go ahead on Sunday, despite boycott threats from the opposition. Presidential candidate Jude Célestin called the election a farce, after regulators concluded an earlier vote was fraudulent.

While you were sleeping

Global markets found a renewed confidence. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed up by 5.9% and the pan-European Stoxx 600 rose by as much as 2.3% in early trading, on the back of a bounce in oil prices. Speculation that the European Central Bank could re-up its stimulus measures didn’t hurt, either (paywall).

Google has paid Apple at least $1 billion to be the iPhone’s search bar. That’s the amount paid by the internet giant to the smartphone maker last year, according to Bloomberg. Both Apple and Google have long guarded that figure, which was eventually revealed in court proceedings.

SAP raised its profit and revenue forecast. The German software maker said it expects revenue of up to €23.5 billion ($24.5 billion) in the year ending 2017, €1.5 billion higher than previous estimates and better than analyst expectations. The company is transitioning to provide software via cloud-based subscriptions.

Wanda Group announced a $10-billion India project. The Chinese conglomerate headed by Asia’s richest man will build an industrial zone in the country’s northern Haryana state. Few details were made public, but the size would make it one of the largest such deals in the country.

Euro-zone economic activity slowed. Markit’s preliminary purchasing manager’s index slipped to 53.5 in January (pdf), from 54.3 in December, suggesting a slowdown in the rate of expansion of business activity. Services grew at the slowest pace in a year; manufacturing growth hit an 11-month low.

Islamist militants killed at least 17 in Somalia. The al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab group detonated two car bombs by a popular beachside restaurant before fighting a gun battle with government troops. The second blast came an hour after the first, to inflict maximum damage on government forces.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the one chart that explains the state of global financial markets. “It explains why the yuan, ruble, and Brazilian real are so weak. It explains why the Chinese stock market is plunging. Likewise, it helps explain why the US dollar is strong and bond yields are diving there, even as the Federal Reserve tries to raise interest rates.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

South Africa just sentenced rhinos to extinction. Lifting a ban on rhino horn sales will surely encourage poaching.

Science is failing to alter the future. Humans just aren’t good enough at changing bad behavior.

Hollywood-style heists are a thing of the past. In the surveillance age, sophisticated burglaries are neither possible nor profitable.

Surprising discoveries

The Danish finance ministry ordered a count of the country’s flagpoles. One politician described the initiative as “the most moronic thing I’ve heard in years.”

There are three countries where a single billionaire could end poverty. They are Swaziland, Georgia, and Colombia.

Chess is banned in Islam. So says Saudi Arabia, though Iran takes a different stance.

Woody Guthrie really did not like Donald Trump’s racist dad. Fred Trump “stirred up racial hate in the bloodpot of human hearts.”

Darth Vader baby clothes are being recalled for a choking hazard. The irony is strong with this one.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jedi baby clothes, and flagpole estimates to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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