Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Japanese gains, new Dutch reign, Spain in the slow lane

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What to watch for today

Case-Shiller day. The US S&P/Case-Shiller home price index is expected to show an increase of 9%—good news for the US economy, as long as it’s not a sign of a second housing bubble.

Seven South Korean managers have been detained in North Korea’s shuttered Kaesong factory complex until they pay their bills.

Was a woman involved in the Boston bombings? Authorities are investigating after they found female DNA on bomb debris.

Earnings madness: Rosneft, Thomson Reuters, Pfizer and Marks & Spencer report.

While you were sleeping

Euro inflation flagged. Price increases slowed to 1.2% in April, the lowest in three years. That paves the way for a cut in interest rates by the European Central Bank later this week—though it won’t help the economy much anyway.

Spanish GDP was grim, and getting worse. Spain’s economy has shrunk for seven quarters in a row, and it’s only going to get worse: the central bank lowered its estimate for 2013 to minus 1.3%.

Unilever is bullish on India. The consumer goods giant wants to raise its stake in its Indian unit from half to almost 75%. The price: $5.4 billion.

Best Buy said goodbye to Europe. The American retailer will exit its joint venture with Carphone Warehouse, purchased in 2008 for $2.15 billion. It will offload it for $775 million.

Japan enjoyed its fourth straight month of increased industrial production, up 0.2% in March, with unemployment down 0.2 percentage points. South Korea showed a 2.6% decline in February industrial production, the third consecutive month of contraction. The two trends are related.

Earnings winners: BP’s quarterly net profit tripled to $16.86 billion, Lloyds swung from a $7.7 billion loss to a $2.3 billion profit, AB InBev’s revenues dropped but profits rose from $1.67 billion to $2.05 billion, and ANZ’s six-month profits rose 1% to A$2.94 billion ($3.04 billion). Earnings losers: Gazprom’s full year profit fell 10% to 1.18 trillion rubles ($38.16 billion) and Softbank’s annual net income dipped 7.8% to 289 billion yen ($3 billion).

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why a dispute between former NBA star Michael Jordan and a Chinese sportswear company is a big deal: ”Today was the first day of trial in the lawsuit brought by Michael Jordan—you know, “Air Jordan”—against Qiaodan Sports Co. (乔丹, an ostensible Mandarin transliteration of “Jordan,” pronounced “chee-ow dahn.”) The suit will test the Chinese legal system’s recognition of personal trademarks, something increasingly important to the country as it seeks to upgrade its protection of intellectual property.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Goldman Sachs is becoming Apple’s go-to bank under Tim Cook. Steve Jobs always disdained bankers.

China is secretly pouring far more aid money into Africa than it has ever disclosed.

The US tech talent shortage is a myth. What that means for immigration reform.

One of these four people could be the future CEO of JP Morgan. When Jamie Dimon steps down, that is.

More money, more happiness. And “if there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it.”

We may never run out of fossil fuels. Crystalline natural gas would be a miracle—and a disaster.

Surprising discoveries

Death of the upgrade. Airlines are auctioning off empty business class seats to the peasants in economy class.

Turkmenistan’s president took his country for a ride. The autocratic Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won his country’s version of Ascot. Of course  

The Chinese like Obama’s stand-up comedy. They wish they too had funny, self-assured leaders. 

A great photographer goes kaput. The European Space Agency’s Herschel telescope finally ran out of helium, meaning it will stop taking beautiful pictures of the universe.

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Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, sporty autocrat pictures, and business class game theory tactics to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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