Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—new Samsung phone, new Pope, new Google Android boss, old email rituals

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What to watch for today

The state of Chinese insurance. Ping An, a large and growing insurance and financial services conglomerate, reports earnings. Last month a company controlled by Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont was cleared to buy a 15.57% stake in Ping An from HSBC. China Mobile, the country’s largest wireless telecom operator, also reports earnings today.

The clash of austerity doctrines. EU leaders meet in Brussels today for a two-day summit. Some predict an ideological argument between Germany and France, after Germany yesterday presented its draft budget for 2014, which will eliminate new debt by 2015.

Rate decisions in Switzerland and Norway. The latest in monetary policy news from two of Europe’s safe havens.

Volkswagen earnings. The German automaker announces fourth-quarter results. It’s already told investors that its net profit was up 41% in 2012, even as it used cheap debt to expand into new markets.

Samsung’s hot new phone. The Korean electronics giant will launch its Galaxy S4 phone in New York City. The previous version, the S3, was the world’s best-selling smartphone before the iPhone 5 came along; can Samsung reclaim that crown? Much of the growth may be in under-served emerging markets, where smartphone-makers have been making a belated but strong push.

While you were sleeping

Habemus Papam Franciscum Primum. Cardinals chose Jorge Mario Bergoglio, until now the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and an Argentine cardinal, as the first pope in over a millennium to hail from outside Europe (though his parents were Italian). For more on the new Catholic leader, check out our “official” Pope Francis I baseball rookie card.

Australian unemployment figures sprung a sweet surprise. The Australian economy created nearly 72,000 jobs in February, leaving forecasts of rising unemployment in the dust and killing hopes of an interest-rate cut. It was the fastest job growth in more than a decade.

Meanwhile, over on Wall Street… The S&P 500 ended the day 13 points short of an all-time high, the Dow hit its highest intra-day high, retail sales chalked up an impressive 1.1% monthly rise in February, and the dollar got stronger (paywall). Good times.

Android + Chrome = ? Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android mobile operating system team, has stepped down. Sundar Pichai, head of the Chrome web browser and Chrome OS project, will add Android to his portfolio. This could signal a forthcoming fusion between Android and Chrome OS, which could ultimately be a big money-maker for Google.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on how China’s new first lady, Peng Liyuan, could help make over the leadership’s fusty image. “Peng is praised as being humble and friendly—the wife of a composer she worked with says the first lady wears plain clothes and would come over to listen to music and talk about art—as well as bold: Peng is a World Health Organization ambassador for AIDS, a touchy subject in China. Yet some suspect a calculating side.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

“Two drunks” and a financial crisis. Is it even possible to separate governments and banks?

A business model based on refurbishing companies. Why Blackberry could be a good bet for Lenovo.

Profiling the new pope. Due diligence on Francis I.

The time of the email sign-off has passed. They’re unnecessary and awful.

Surprising discoveries

The science of papal smoke signals. Believe it or not, it’s now pretty high-tech.

European men die young. Life expectancy is 7.5 years shorter for European men than women.

Weird facts about papal conclaves. It once took the cardinals nearly three years to make a decision. Another time, there were three popes at once.

Cellos are people too. Or not, according to Delta, which stripped away (paywall) a cello’s air miles—and its owner’s too.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spare air miles, and “best wishes” to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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