Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Oil standoff, Syrian ceasefire, anti-smoking cat videos

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What to watch for today

An oil standoff in Houston. Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi comes face-to-face with the US shale producers blaming him for the collapse in prices. Considered the world’s most powerful oil policymaker, he’ll make a speech at a conference in Houston.

Mr. Wang goes to Washington. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s three-day visit comes while tensions are high over his nation’s missile deployment in the South China Sea. North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling will be on the agenda.

DreamWorks Animation showcases its fourth quarter. The Hollywood studio made only one movie last year but has been licensing more of its content to Netflix, to capitalize on changing viewing habits. Analysts expect strong earnings.

US retailers get their report cards. Home Depot’s fourth-quarter results, expected to be better than the same period last year, will offer hints on the health of the US housing market and big-ticket consumer spending. Analysts don’t expect much good news for Macy’s.

While you were sleeping

The US and Russia—finally—agreed to a Syria ceasefire. Hostilities will come to an end on midnight at the end of Feb. 27, but air strikes against ISIL and other terror organizations will continue. This is the first time the negotiators have set a date.

Fitbit gave a disappointing forecast. The smart-wristband maker predicted earnings per share of around $0.02 (or less) for the current quarter, compared with expectations of $0.23. The shares dropped 16% despite a better-than-expected holiday quarter.

Apple urged the US to start an encryption panel. The tech company suggested the White House start a commission on encryption issues, after the FBI asked for a so-called “backdoor” into a terrorist’s iPhone last week.

Mark Zuckerberg tried to calm carriers. The Facebook CEO told a mobile industry conference that he sees a “symbiotic” relationship between carriers and his company’s Messenger and WhatsApp services, which have decimated the once-lucrative SMS business.

Honeywell disclosed failed merger talks with United Technologies. The aerospace giants discussed a deal sometime in the last two weeks, but ended them over antitrust concerns, according to CNBC. The companies first began talking about a merger last year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on what to make of Bernie Sanders’s economic proposals. “The controversial projections behind Sanders’ plan, by economist Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, rely on the conviction that massive fiscal spending can be a huge growth engine.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Illicit drugs are a market to be tamed, not a war to be won. Cartels face the same economic pressures as other businesses.

Single women are the most important voters in the US. Their hopes and dreams are driving progressive politics.

By 2030, there will be a clean energy breakthrough to save the planet. So says Bill Gates.

Surprising discoveries

NASA declassified strange music from the dark side of the moon. One astronaut described it as “a whistling outer-space-type thing.”

There is a man who narrates his dreams as he dreams them. His sleep-talking is a boon to neuroscience.

MasterCard will soon begin accepting selfies. They are more secure than passwords for verifying online payments.

India is going to be the next big oil story. It’s about to overtake Japan as the third-largest importer, and will keep growing fast.

There is a cat video that could help you stop smoking. It tells you what happens to the cats of smokers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space music, and sleep-talking to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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