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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—ECB, US bank stress tests, Microsoft, Dell, Chinese “farmscrapers”

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Central bankers huddle. The European Central Bank is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.75%, though it might signal future rate cuts. Central bank policymakers in Japan and England conclude meetings too.

Grades for US banks. US regulators release results of stress tests on the biggest American banks to see how well they would weather financial shocks. US trade data for January and initial jobless claims for the week ending March 3 will also be published.

Bombardier talks about its CSeries jets. The aircraft maker holds a briefing to explain why, four years after beginning its foray into the single-aisle jetliner business, it has sold only 180 of the planes, well shy of its goal of 300 sales by mid-2014.

While you were sleeping

Microsoft got a hefty slap on the wrist—but not that hefty. It was fined €561 million ($732 million) by the European Commission for not letting some users know they could use a web browser other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer on their Windows-based PCs. But compared to the company’s cash pile, that’s not a whole lot.

America’s economy sped up a little. The US Federal Reserve said economic growth improved gradually in January and part of February as consumer spending picked up.

Still no results in Kenya’s presidential election. Airplanes and helicopters flew around the country to collect votes after electronic polls broke down, delaying a conclusion to the contentious race.

Dell deal faces opposition. Activist investor Carl Icahn is reportedly ready to oppose the proposed $24.4 billion sale of Dell. Southeastern Asset Management and T. Rowe Price, some of Dell’s biggest outside shareholders, are already against the deal. 

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on how the Dow isn’t the only stock-market metric breaking records. “The 30 large, blue-chip firms [the Dow is] comprised of can’t possibly reflect the breadth of the world’s largest economy. The S&P is considered a better bellwether by most professionals, and the S&P is lagging the Dow’s move higher, but is pushing in the same general direction. More importantly, there are a number of telling stock market measures that are telegraphing similar optimism on the US economy by rising over their previous high-water marks.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s solar industry is primed for either collapse or consolidation…depending on the fate of Suntech, the world’s biggest photovoltaic panel maker, which has to pay off a $541 million payment on convertible notes by March 15.

Hugo Chávez wasn’t that important. The Latin American leader you should care about is La MaestraElba Esther Gordillo, the recently jailed head of the Mexican teachers’ union and epitome of corrupt Latin American union bosses.

People without kids deserve work flexibility too. Working moms, and dads, are up in arms over Yahoo’s decision not to let employees work from home, but what about childless, single employees?

Four ways the human race could become extinct. Forget asteroids, global warming and super-volcanoes: it’s artificial intelligence you really need to worry about.

Surprising discoveries

M. Night Shyamalan sees ed people. The director of the “Sixth Sense” has an upcoming book on a chilling topic: education reform.

When it’s safe to criticize the government in China. A new study says that roughly 4,200 censors employed by the Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo take a break at around 7pm, to watch the evening news.

Chinese “farmscrapers” combine style and ecology. The city of Shenzhen has commissioned a French architecture firm to create six swiveling towers that will grow food for its tenants.

Sometimes airlines really do try harder. United Airlines held a plane to help a man reach his dying mother in time to say goodbye. Meanwhile, a Dreamliner pilot for Air India raps about life with the 787s grounded (caution, strong language).

Correction: In yesterday’s newsletter we incorrectly said that Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa was stepping down on March 8. It is actually March 19.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, plots against the human race, and farmscraper designs to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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