Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Nikkei at 14k, Disney results, Aussie trade balance

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What to watch for today

Grinding gears. Data on German factory orders and French industrial production will shed some light on how the euro crisis is hampering exports from the continental powers.

Kerry meets Putin in Moscow. Syria and Iran will be on the agenda, though perhaps Kerry should begin by congratulating Putin on the first anniversary of his third term as president.

Will the Mouse roar? Entertainment giant Disney reports quarterly results after the close of US trading. Investors will be eager to see whether company cash cows such as ESPN will live up to the performance of the company’s shares, which have risen more than 50% over the past year.

Credit where credit is due. An update is due on US consumer borrowing for March. The last iteration of this report showed car and college loans rising fast.

A North Korea policy. US President Barack Obama and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, on her first foreign trip as president, discuss their chief matter of mutual concern. North Korea yesterday moved two missiles away from a coastal launch site, indicating a further lowering of tensions on the peninsula.

Can you hear them calling? An ABBA museum is set to open in Stockholm.

While you were sleeping 

The Nikkei hit 14,000 this morning. The last time that happened was in the halcyon days of June, 2008.

Australia’s trade balance swung back to surplus. The figures for March showed a healthy balance of A$307 million (US$314 million) in Australia’s favour, from a deficit of A$111 million in February.

Scrappy start-up Aereo sued CBS. Online television-streaming service Aereo asked a federal court to rule that it doesn’t violate copyright law, in order to prevent more CBS lawsuits in other US jurisdictions.

Syrian rebels might have used chemical weapons. So a UN human rights investigator told Swiss television, though the UN appears to be distancing itself from those comments.

Bank of America sorted out a bit more of its subprime mess. The bank agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a dispute with bond insurer MBIA, which had insured some of BofA’s subprime mortgage deals. The settlement also warded off possible liquidation for MBIA.

Boring software company fetches large sum. Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital agreed to buy struggling tech firm BMC, which makes software for running company networks, for $6.9 billion—the third-largest private equity deal of 2013.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the rise of China’s truly bizarre architectural aesthetic.  ”China’s modern architectural sensibility, in some ways, is still in its infancy. The industry has only begun emerging over the past 30 years during the country’s economic reform and opening up, after decades of following Soviet-style city design. Today, there is about one architect for every 40,000 people in China. (In Italy, the proportion is more like 1:400). And the newness of it all, Wu Liangyong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering said, means the People’s Republic is now seeing a surge of demand for the avant-garde and novel—no matter how tacky.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

George Soros is wrong. The financier has said Germany should leave the euro zone. Economist Hans-Werner Sinn argues that southern European countries should become more competitive instead.

Rising US house prices might not generate as much consumer spending as they once did. The so-called wealth effect has been constrained by a dearth of cash-out refinancing.

Were English and Japanese once the same language? Researchers in Britain think they were, about 15,000 years ago. 

Patenting human genes is wrong. It inhibits innovation, blocks access to knowledge, and may cost lives.

Do the right thing. Jamie Dimon should give up the chairmanship at JP Morgan.

Surprising discoveries

Private schools are on sale. US private colleges and universities offered record price cuts via grants and scholarships, averaging 45% last autumn, amid worries they’ve become too expensive.

Corruption watch. Exports of Swiss watches to China tumbled 23% early this year, amid a Chinese crackdown on “gifts” to public officials.

Porn overload. Some 12% of websites are pornographic (paywall).

The shorter your first name, the bigger your salary. Every extra letter means a loss of $3,600 per year.

Well played. Al Gore is worth almost as much as Mitt Romney.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ur-English flash cards, and ABBA cover versions to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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