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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Apple meets its skeptics, more stocks turmoil, Palin “saved feminism”

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Expect a tough day on the stock market. China’s CSI 300 index of top stocks dropped 6% to a 13-month low, on data that suggested capital outflows reached $1 trillion last year and an oil price below $30. Investors flocked to safe havens (paywall) like the yen and US Treasuries; European stocks opened lower and US stocks are expected to follow.

Everyone in France is striking harder than usual. Taxi drivers and air traffic controllers joined a massive strike among the country’s civil servants to protest declining pay and number of jobs. Paris airports are open but travellers had better take the train; many roads have been barricaded.

Denmark votes on seizing the valuables of asylum-seekers. The parliament is expected to approve measures that will allow police to seize any cash over $1,500, and to delay family reunions for three years. The vote comes a day after talks over migration within the EU’s Schengen border-free countries in Amsterdam ended in recrimination

Apple faces the doubters… Investors are likely to focus on the iPhone maker’s sales projections for the current quarter, which could show the company’s first year-on-year sales decline in 13 years. That’s despite analyst expectations that the company will report its best-ever quarterly sales for the holiday season just passed.

…and other earnings reports are due. Procter & Gamble, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Capital One, 3M, and Philips will also give quarterly updates.

While you were sleeping

Malaysia cleared its prime minister of corruption. The country’s top prosecutor concluded that a $681-million deposit into Najib Razak’s personal bank account was a simple gift from the Saudi royal family. The PM’s critics alleged that the money came from 1MDB, the state-run investment fund.

Thailand attempted to contain the MERS virus. Thirty-two people have been quarantined and eight more are being sought, after a second case of the respiratory virus was confirmed in the country Friday (Jan. 22). The patient is an elderly Omani man; MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia.

Hyundai failed to escape the emerging-market slowdown. The South Korean auto maker reported a full-year profit of 6.4 trillion won ($5.3 billion) in 2015, its lowest in five years, on weak demand from developing economies. And it said this year may not be much better, sending shares down 1.5%.

Suicide bombers killed at least 32 in Cameroon. Four separate explosions injured dozens more at a market near the border with Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been fighting with government troops. Suicide bombers last struck across the border in Cameroon in December.

Another suitor lined up to buy Peroni and Grolsch. Fraser and Neave, the Singapore-based conglomerate, has formally expressed interest in purchasing the beer brands, thought to be worth around $1.3 billion. They’re expected to go on sale when parent company SABMiller is acquired by mega-brewer AB InBev.

Sony agreed to buy an Israeli connected-devices chipmaker. The Japanese electronics giant will pay $212 million for Altair Semiconductors, which makes chips that allow small devices to connect to mobile networks. Sony said it plans to expand its own range of internet-connected devices using Altair technology.

Quartz obsession interlude

David Yanofsky and Jason Karaian on tracking Davos’s private helicopters—using a homemade antenna. “Use of private aircraft, though often wildly overstated, highlights the vast wealth and power that descends upon this small skiing town in the Swiss Alps each year… Chartering a helicopter flight from Zürich to Davos can cost as much as $10,000. We built our helicopter-tracking rig for under $200.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The rise of robots will halt inflation. If you think interest rates are low now, just wait until millions of jobs are lost to automation.

The plastic bag is a thing of beauty. We’ve been sorely underestimating their brilliance for far too long.

Sarah Palin has saved feminism. Often, when a woman failed, all women looked bad—but not so with the former Alaska governor (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Donald Rumsfeld created a solitaire app. The former US secretary of defense advertises it as the version played by Winston Churchill.

The US snowstorm caused a spike in Tinder activity… Chances of making a match were more than three times higher than normal.

…and someone tried to rent out an igloo in New York on Airbnb. The $200-per-night listing was quickly removed from the site.

A Thai airline is letting passengers buy seats for their lifelike dolls. They will not be allowed to sit in exit rows.

Dinosaurs were lovers, not fighters. Their horns were instrumental to mating—not combat, as was previously thought.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Churchillian gaming apps, and igloo vacancies to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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