Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Oil forecasts, Tata write-down, Bangladesh safety, Bing and the Nazis

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What to watch for today

Oil markets look for a sign. With demand from China unclear and a strengthening dollar making US oil imports cheaper, over-supply is starting to drive down oil prices ahead of today’s International Energy Agency five-year forecast of the fast-changing global oil market.

In the Arctic, the US and Russia find time to talk.  The Arctic Council meets in Kiruna, Sweden, to ratify plans for dealing with the impacts of oil exploration in the polar region, and consider letting China into the club. Keep an eye on a Syria-focused side meeting between US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Taking the EU’s economic temperature. German think-tank ZEW will release its survey of economic sentiment in the euro zone. which, along with the latest inflation data, should give the markets a take on the prospects for the EU and its largest economy. Expectations? Low.

Who will pay more than $605,000 to meet Apple’s CEO? Today is the last day to bid on a coffee date with Tim Cook, auctioned off to benefit a human-rights charity.

While you were sleeping

What’s Tata to do? After announcing a $1.6 billion write-down on a European subsidiary late on Monday, the Indian conglomerate may want to turn its focus back to home markets.

Tough times continue for Bloomberg. After the company’s reporters got called out for using its proprietary data terminals to snoop on bank employees, the FT found more than 10,000 supposedly private messages sent between the terminals freely available online.

Indian pharma firm pays $500 million for making unsafe drugs. Ranbaxy, an Indian drugmaker majority-owned by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo, pleaded guilty to felony counts and settled an investigation into its manufacturing procedures by the US Department of Justice.

Clothing companies agree to tougher safety standards after Bangladesh disaster. The repercussions of a deadly factory collapse there has companies who weren’t involved, like H&M and Inditex (the parent company of Zara), signing up to fund repairs at the facilities in their supply chain.

The Bank of Israel unexpectedly cut its lending rate to 1.5%. The decision comes after natural gas exploration and monetary easing in large economies strengthened the shekel.

David Cameron has a plan to keep the UK in the EU. It’s a free trade deal with the United States.

Americans bought a little more in April. US retail sales rose 0.1% in April after dropping off half a percentage point in March; analysts say low gas prices spurred the rebound.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the growing importance of the Straits of Malacca. ”China’s $2.5 billion pipeline project is only one of several attempts to resolve what Chinese officials and energy security analysts have called the ‘Malacca dilemma.’ The straits, a 1.5 nautical-mile wide sea lane near Singapore, are considered the second largest ‘global choke point’ after the Straits of Hormuz in the Middle East. And the Straits are about to get even more crowded.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t label gene-altered foods. There’s no evidence that they are a health risk.

Argentina’s government gets into the black market for dollars. It’s not the best foreign exchange strategy 

Is Tesla making green cars or status symbols for the wealthy? Either way, it’s making money.

Surprising discoveries

How American crooner Bing Crosby and the Nazis launched Silicon Valley. Makes sense to us.

Cursing helps you tolerate pain. Just stick your hands in some ice water and start swearing.

A math problem so hard even mathematicians don’t understand the solution. Has the ABC conjecture really been solved?

The African diaspora in China. They came to buy goods cheap, but now they are staying to run businesses and get married.

What would you do with the power of the 500 fastest supercomputers? Please don’t say “mine bitcoin.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, theories of inter-universal geometry and ideas for solving the Malacca Dilemma to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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