Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Presidents Day holiday, HSBC chooses London, Hijab Barbie

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What to watch for today

Barack Obama hosts an ASEAN summit. The US president brings together Southeast Asian leaders for a two-day meeting in California. Trade and China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea will likely be major talking points.

Central Europe meets on migrants. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland will meet today to discuss a “backup” border-control plan, ahead of an EU meeting later this week.

It’s Presidents Day in the US. Stock markets will be closed for the holiday, as will most banks and many public schools.

Over the weekend

HSBC chose London over Hong Kong. The bank said it would not move its headquarters to the semi-autonomous Chinese city, after its board voted unanimously to stay. Though the HSBC chairman warned that 1,000 jobs could move to Paris in the event of the UK leaving the European Union.

Antonin Scalia died and a fight broke out over his replacement. The US Supreme Court justice passed away aged 79, having served on the bench since 1986. His passing has already influenced the US presidential race, with Republican candidates eager to delay the nomination of a new justice until after president Barack Obama’s term ends.

Asia’s two biggest economies looked fragile. China’s trade data was even worse than expected, with exports falling by 11.2% in January compared to a year earlier, while imports dropped by 18.8%. Meanwhile,  Japan’s economy shrank by 1.4% in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier.

Reckitt Benckiser beat expectations. The household goods giant behind Durex condoms and Nurofen reported a 6% rise in like-for-like sales for last year, compared with an anticipated 5.3% increase. The shares jumped as it forecast revenue up to 5% higher in the year ahead.

Ehud Olmert began a prison sentence for bribery. The former Israeli prime minister was sentenced to 19 months in jail for charges dating back to when he was mayor of Jerusalem. He was found guilty of taking over $140,000 from a property developer.

Another Russian former anti-doping chief died suddenly. Nikita Kamaev, who left his post as head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency two months ago, reportedly died after a “massive heart attack,” aged 52. The sports watchdog’s founding chairman died two weeks ago. The agency is facing a major doping scandal.

California capped its gas leak. Engineers have finally staunched a leaking gas well four months after it was discovered. It had put 96,000 tons of methane into the air.

Quartz obsession interlude

Aamna Mohdin and Mike Murphy on the leadership lessons of Leicester’s rise in the Premier League. “What’s even more remarkable about Leicester’s rise to fame is the fact they did it at a fraction of the price of their competitors. Its tremendous run has shone light on an idea often overlooked in the Premier League—value for money.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The solar boom is looking like a bubble. Government subsidies have been propping up the market.

Texting is changing relationships. Having the same texting style as your partner can be crucial.

There’s no such thing as stress. What you’re feeling is fear—and that, not stress, is what you need to deal with.

Surprising discoveries

Water scarcity affects over four billion people a year. A new study finds that shortages are a bigger deal than previously thought.

Hijab Barbie is Instagram’s latest style star. The account was created by 24-year-old Haneefah Adam.

Sudan could spend up to 70% of its budget on war this year. Just slightly more than what is spent on education and health.

You can get millions of academic papers for free again. A website that pirated 47 million of them has sprung up anew after being closed down.

Play-Doh is more popular than ever. The clay-like craft toy has reported double-digit revenue growth three years in a row.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pious Barbie snaps, and free academic papers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.


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