Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Donald Trump dispatches a trade envoy to China. The president is sending Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and a team of advisers to Beijing this week in an attempt to settle ongoing trade disputes. Meanwhile, the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is in the Middle East trying to drum up support for sanctions against Iran.
McDonald’s reports. The fast-food giant is expected to unveil a small profit and an increase in same-store sales. Investors will be watching to see if the new low-price items on its “value” menu lured more customers in the first quarter.
A busy week for health earnings begins. Botox-maker Allergan is expected to report a smaller loss for the first quarter, thanks to its franchise of aesthetics products. Tenet Healthcare’s earnings might be boosted by an unusually severe flu season. Pfizer and CVS are among the others reporting later this week.
Over the weekend
North Korea vowed to ditch its nukes. Kim Jong-un told South Korean president Moon Jae-in (paywall) he’d abandon his nuclear weapons if the US agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade. Skeptics warn North Korea has reneged on its denuclearization promises before.
Sprint and T-Mobile just can’t quit each other. The wireless carriers announced plans for a $26 billion all-stock merger, marking their third attempt to join forces. They are playing on US anxieties that China will dominate 5G, the next iteration of wireless networking, to try and overcome regulators this time.
A mega UK grocery-chain merger was confirmed. Sainsbury’s and Walmart-owned Asda have agreed to a £13.3 billion ($18 billion) tie-up, creating the UK’s largest grocery chain. The enlarged group, which would have a bigger market share than Tesco, said they would be able to lower prices to better compete with German discounters.
Britain’s home secretary resigned. Amber Rudd quit after she “inadvertently misled” her peers over targets to remove illegal immigrants. Rudd was criticized for her role in the “Windrush scandal,” which saw long-term UK residents from the Caribbean wrongly face deportation under the government’s immigration policy. Sajid Javid was named as her replacement.
WPP beat expectations. Despite the abrupt resignation of CEO Martin Sorrell earlier this month, the advertising giant did better than expected in the first quarter. The company’s strategy still needs to be laid out, but its stock was heading for its best day in a decade when markets opened.
Blue Origin launched its first rocket of 2018. Jeff Bezos’s company fired a reusable New Shepard rocket to the edge of space. The rocket was carrying a space capsule equipped with a dummy (“Mannequin Skywalker”) and some scientific experiments. Both the capsule and booster returned safely.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jenny Anderson on the college making liberal arts fit for the future of work. “Clayton Spencer has been head of Bates, a small college in Lewiston, Maine, founded by abolitionists, since 2012. Since she arrived, she’s made it a priority to embed the idea of ‘purposeful work’—broadly defined as work that both has personal meaning and societal relevance—into as many aspects of college life as possible.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Users aren’t Facebook’s product. If anything, the tech giant’s mistake with Cambridge Analytica was failing to treat user data as a valuable product.
The US doesn’t understand China’s motives. Beijing is not seeking to subvert or supplant the “liberal international order” the way the Soviet Union did.
The iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 are pretty much the same phone. What we’re really buying is an ethos.
Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War made history. It brought in $630 million in global box-office returns in its opening weekend—more than any movie ever.
Tesla has probably burned through $20,000 since you started reading this email. Elon Musk’s electric car company is spending $6,500 every minute.
Ludwig Wittgenstein invented emoji 80 years ago. The philosopher was ahead of his time regarding the intuitive appeal to pictorial communication. 🤔
Half of a French museum’s art turned out to be fake. The Étienne Terrus museum in Elne discovered that 82 works originally attributed to the artist were not painted by him.
Kraft once made an Oreo filled with gum. The chocolate-and-chewing-gum sandwich cookie, created in a research lab for Kraft’s Chinese market, never made it to the shelves.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, infinity stones, and verified paintings to email@example.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Eshe Nelson and edited by Lianna Brinded.