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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Syrian “ceasefire” agreed, the Pope in Mexico, invest in Kanye’s sneakers

By Richard Macauley

What to watch for today and over the weekend

How will the week end for US stocks? After a tough few days, the Europe Stoxx 600 is higher after oil prices gained. But Asian trading was brutal; Korea’s Kosdaq index was halted by a circuit breaker after it dropped 8.2% (paywall), while Japan polished off the worst week in eight years.

Pope Francis arrives in Mexico. The pontiff will spend six days in the country with the world’s second-largest Catholic population. He will meet president Enrique Peña Nieto and visit Ciudad Juarez, a notorious border town and drug hub.

Rwanda will kick out 70,000 refugees. The government said it will relocate the Burundians after it was accused of arming them to fight their government (Rwanda denies it is doing this). Around 240,000 people have fled Burundi since president Pierre Nkurunziza won a disputed third term last year.

The UK’s Independent newspaper will announce its print closure. The owner of the left-wing national daily is also expected to sell its sister tabloid, i, to the owner of the Scotsman. The paper, launched in 1986, was known for its ground-breaking approach to print; it will live on as a website.

How is the US consumer holding up? The University of Michigan releases its preliminary consumer sentiment index for February; expectations are that it will rise to 92.5, from 92 in January. Separately, US retail sales are expected to have increased 0.2% last month.

While you were sleeping

World powers agreed on a Syrian ceasefire—sort of. US secretary of state John Kerry, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and the leaders of Ukraine and Jordan said that they would end “hostilities” in the country “in one week’s time.” But the agreement didn’t include deadly terror groups operating in Syria, and Russia hasn’t ruled out further airstrikes.

The euro zone’s GDP growth slowed. The economic bloc’s economy grew by 1.5% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, down from 1.6% in the third quarter. Spain was home to the highest growth (3.5%); Greece (-1.9%) was the worst performer.

Rolls-Royce finally gave investors some good news. The British engine maker stuck to its earlier forecast for 2016 profits, after many expected it would lower them. After five profit warnings in two years, that news was good enough to send shares up by as much as 16%.

Renault reported a massive profit boost. The French auto maker posted a €2.8-billion ($3.2-billion) net income for 2015, compared to €1.9 billion a year earlier, and beat its own profit margin target. Increased sales in its van and small car range managed to offset a decline in Russia.

Jamie Dimon put his money where his mouth is. The JPMorgan Chase CEO spent $26 million on 500,000 shares of the bank’s stock, to encourage other investors. The bank’s shares have lost 20% of their value this year, amid a global selloff in banks.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated again. The US Democratic presidential candidates fought over support for minorities, ahead of votes in Nevada and South Carolina. The Vermont senator highlighted plans for economic fairness; Clinton aligned herself with president Barack Obama’s leadership.

Quartz obsession interlude

Thomas Page McBee on why men fight. “Men have to fight someone or something at some point, don’t they? For my entire life, and certainly for the four years since I began injecting testosterone, I’ve been fighting, whether it’s myself, the world or my place in it. Masculinity and aggression seem so inextricably entwined. But why?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Kanye West’s sneakers are the new gold. They’re a better investment than any other asset class.

Europe’s future may hinge on the fate of Aleppo. If the city falls to Assad, it will weaken NATO and embolden Russia.

Smartphones are killing fashion shows. Consumers are being exposed to trends too quickly (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

It’s easier to get away with murder in Japan. Only one in nine “unusual deaths” are investigated under the knife.

Some whales have Caribbean accents. Scientists say their culture explains their unique vocal patterns.

Tampons are a precious commodity in the US. Forty states tax them as luxury items.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has his own emoji, too. The “Kimunjis“ take on Kim Kardashian’s kimojis .

A college degree is more expensive for women than men. Because men pay off their own debts faster.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Caribbean whales, and Kimunjis to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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