Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—May Day, Apple bonds, IKEA in India, French state wine sale

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Many markets closed for May Day. It’s international worker’s day, or labor day, depending on the country you’re in, and that means stock exchanges from Frankfurt to Shanghai will be closed. There will also be potentially contentious rallies in Venezuela, and protests across the US.

High Court in London begins inquest into murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. The MI6 secret intelligence service reportedly paid him $136,000, and now maybe we’ll find out more about why.

India might finally get around to letting IKEA in. This has been dragging on forever.

Earnings ahoy! Merck (preview), CBS, Chesapeake Energy, Facebook, GlaxoSmithKline, Tesoro, MasterCard, Visa and Yelp all report.

While you were sleeping

Apple issued $17 billion in debt. And oh boy, but do the bond markets love it.

Riptides in the US housing market.  Home ownership rates in the US dropped to their lowest level since 1995, while home prices in major cities shot up at the fastest rate since May 2006, which boosted consumer confidence.

Cyprus bailout passed—barely. The island nation’s parliament approved the financial rescue package by just two votes.

The death toll in the Bangladesh factory collapse could reach as high as 1,400. Grim news as rescuers give up on finding any more missing workers. Italian fashion firm Benetton is now on its third, increasingly contrite statement about the tragedy, after having denied any connection to the manufacturing there.

Saudi Arabia declared it wasn’t scared of US oil production. “In the blink of an eye, the scarcity scare-mongers have been replaced by the apostles of plenty,” said petroleum and mineral resources minister Ali I. al-Naimi.

Yahoo just doubled maternity leave for employees. If they can’t work from home, at least employees of the Internet company can spend the first four months there after their child is born.

Regulators promised new rules in the wake of the stock market flash crash last week linked to an AP Twitter account hacking. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission is ON IT.

Earnings winners: BP is set to gain despite all the lawsuits. UBS is back after the Libor scandal, easily beating estimates. Earnings losers: Cummins, maker of engines, saw earnings drop 38%. Revenue for health insurer Aetna was down 3.8%. Pfizer missed on earnings. US Steel reported a first-quarter loss.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on how bitcoin could become an untraceable and comprehensive parallel financial system. “What’s often missed about alternative currencies like bitcoin is that they weren’t just made for buying and selling things. Nor are they simply tools for financial speculation. Bitcoin is also a payment system, allowing anyone to transfer money anonymously, immediately, irreversibly—and, if you like, illicitly.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Should migration be restricted on economic grounds? Most definitely not, says Tim Worstan, who calls it “the most effective anti-poverty program there is.”

Baidu, the Google of China, is flailing because it failed to embrace mobile. Live by the desktop, die with the desktop.

BlackBerry’s CEO is correct: There’s no future in tablets. At least if you want to make money on them.

Surprising discoveries

A large-screen iPhone 6 is coming in June 2014, says analyst. We said Apple should do it, but it stretches believability to imagine they might.

France’s presidential palace will sell part of its wine collection, with the proceeds to go to the state. Let’s see how long 1,200 bottles can hold off the euro crisis.

Pope’s favorite film the subject of a bitter copyright dispute. It’s the 95-year-old director versus an American producer who claims he purchased the rights in 2007.

In France, sales of fast food eclipse regular restaurants for the first time. This is possibly the worst thing to happen to France since that Economist cover.

Watch Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo hit supersonic speeds during its first rocket-powered flight. Here comes 16 seconds of pure awesome.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, theories about the future of tablets and ideas for what the French state should sell off next to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day. And you can join Quartz’s Google Hangout debating the merits of an MBA on May 1 at 2 p.m. EST. More details here.

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