Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Italy’s old new hope, Australia hearts China, earnings galore

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What to watch for today

Say hello to the sequester. Durable goods orders in the US are expected to show a 3% decline in March. Most of the fall will probably be due to defense spending cuts, with fewer orders for commercial jets and military equipment. Excluding transportation, economists project durable goods orders will rise 0.6%.

Who wants to be an Italian prime minister? Newly re-elected president Giorgio Napolitano is expected to nominate Giuliano Amato, who has already served as prime minister twice.

Tensions rise between China and Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to rewrite his country’s constitution to make it less pacifist, told the Diet that if China lands on disputed islands, “then of course we will forcibly expel them.” Here’s a look at how armed conflict could erupt, and how it would play out.

Massive day for earnings: Procter & Gamble, Ford, Boeing, Qualcomm, and Eli Lilly & Co. are all set to report quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

Is Germany joining the recession party? The Ifo Institute gave its latest read on the German economy today, and the business climate, like the weather on which it is being blamed, is chilly.

Australia strengthened ties with China. The central bank said it would put 5% of the country’s foreign reserves in Chinese bonds. Earlier this month, China and Australia set up a direct trading link for their currencies. Meanwhile, Australian inflation rose 2.5% for the year and 0.4% for the quarter, preserving a decent chance of further rate cuts.

Lloyds Bank’s sale of 630 bank branches fell apart. The deal with the Co-op, worth some £750 million ($1.15 billion), would have allowed Lloyds to fulfill its bailout-era commitment to sell the branches.

A legal tussle for Novartis. American authorities filed a lawsuit against the Swiss drugmaker for issuing kickbacks to pharmacists. On the brighter side, the firm’s profits rose 7% in the first quarter of the year.

Lots of earnings. LG Electronics profits fell 13% due to thinner margins, Barclays plunged 25% on restructuring costs, and Daimler suffered a plunge of more than half due to difficulties in Europe and China. Nintendo was just relieved to turn a profit after a difficult year, and Credit Suisse was in high spirits with higher profits and better-than-expected results.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on the unofficial Apple store in Kabul, Afghanistan: “Where do people in Kabul go when they want to buy an iPhone? The same place as everybody else: an Apple Store. But one thing separates the Apple Store in, say, New York, from the one in Kabul: Apple either doesn’t know it exists, or doesn’t care.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The internet has to make a living. Bye bye, free stuff!

Goldman Sachs suggests you stop shorting gold. And start getting into Chinese stocks.

Neighborhood record stores could outlive iTunes. What if downloadable music was only a stepping stone

Bloomberg Black: Disrupting the financial disrupters.

Is China covering up its bird flu pandemic? Or getting it right at last?

Surprising discoveries

Bill Gates’s handshake: weird or downright rude?

The answer to a lazy eye could be Tetris.

It’s OK to feel sorry for robots. Your brain can be tricked into thinking they have feelings.

When life gives you diseased pig carcasses, it may be a business opportunity.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, vintage LPs, and adorable robot pictures to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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