Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Sexually transmitted Zika, Yahoo for sale, Microsoft’s underwater cloud

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What to watch for today

TPP countries prepare to seal the deal. Japan, the United States, and 10 other Trans-Pacific Partnership nations will hold two days of meetings in Auckland, New Zealand before the controversial treaty is signed. Local businesses have been advised to close their doors due to expected protests.

ChemChina nears a deal to buy Syngenta. The state-owned Chinese chemical giant is poised to buy the Swiss pesticide manufacturer for 43.7 billion Swiss francs ($42.9 billion). The deal would be the largest-ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese firm, and make ChemChina the world’s largest pesticide supplier.

Earnings du jour: Comcast, Yum! Brands, and General Motors are among the companies due to report quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

Yahoo put up a “For Sale” sign. The troubled internet firm is “exploring strategic alternatives”—M&A speak for “please buy me”—and confirmed that it is laying off 15% of staff (1,600 jobs). It will continue to try to find something to do with its stake in Alibaba.

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Iowa caucus. A series of coin tosses helped the former secretary of state after votes came down to the wire in several districts. The state had voted for both Bernie Sanders and Clinton to within one tenth of a percent.

The US confirmed a case of sexually transmitted Zika virus. Health authorities said the patient acquired the virus through contact with a person who had recently traveled to Venezuela. Separately, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff vowed to “win the war” against the outbreak.

China’s services sector picked up the pace. The Markit/Caixin purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.4 in January, from 50.2 in December, a six-month high. Any number above 50 suggests an expansion in activity. Japan’s also increased to the same figure.

Chipotle came under a national investigation. Federal authorities widened their examination of the US fast-casual burrito chain in a review of food safety standards that will search back to 2013. Separately, shares plunged after the company reported that same-store sales declined by more than a third.

Quartz obsession interlude

Ana Campoy on Latin America’s surprising gender parity. “Unlike companies in Europe, Canada, and the US, where the focus has been on recruiting women for top positions, firms in Latin America are adding more female workers across the board, from support staff to executives. In fact, they are hiring women at a higher rate than men at every career level, except at the manager level.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We need a global marketplace for movies and music. The Netflix ban on VPNs won’t help until demand for foreign TV is satisfied.

Hillary Clinton is being pigeon–holed as the disciplinarian “Mom.” Her Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders gets to be the fun “Dad.”

T-shirts can threaten public order. Malaysia made the argument in court while defending its ban on yellow shirts protesting corruption worn in rallies last year.

Don’t let Zika remind you of Ebola. They’ve both been declared “public health emergencies,” but Zika should be approached differently.

Surprising discoveries

Some of Microsoft’s cloud is underwater. An undersea data center takes advantage of the sea’s natural cooling properties.

Anti-perspirants can make you smellier. They can kill the good bacteria in your armpits.

Iowa’s presidential voting was partially decided by coin tosses. Hillary Clinton improbably won all six of them.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, banned T-shirts, and coin toss conspiracy theories to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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