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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Nokia earnings, Apple’s China woe, North Korea targets US

Naomi Rovnick

What to watch for today

How many new Lumias did Nokia sell? The struggling mobile-phone maker’s fourth-quarter earnings are expected to show something of a comeback with strong holiday sales of Lumia smartphones, but it’s not yet clear how many of those were its recent, much-vaunted Windows 8 model—the key to any possible recovery against its rivals Apple and Samsung.

Confirmation hearings for US secretary of state. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will question John Kerry, Barack Obama’s nominee, who is expected to be easily confirmed.

South Africa’s possible rate cut. The rand has been plunging ahead of expectations of a 0.25% interest-rate cut to boost the economy. The nation is suffering slowing growth and a rising budget deficit.

Sudan and South Sudan try to get the oil flowing. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir failed on Jan. 21 to bridge their differences and get 350,000 barrels a day of oil flowing to the market. They are to meet again in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

While you were sleeping

North Korea vowed to target the US. After being condemned by the UN for its December rocket launch, the rogue state said it would carry out further launches and nuclear tests “targeted at the United States.” This marks a new level of aggression towards the US from Pyongyang.

Chinese manufacturers continued recovering. Thanks to the government’s aggressive economic stimulus, manufacturing conditions continue to improve in China. HSBC’s flash PMI, which gauges manufacturing activity, rose to 51.9 in January compared to 51.5 in December. A reading above 50 indicates expansion; for most of 2012 it was below 50.

Apple’s record cash hoard, and its stock nosedive. The company reported holding $137 billion in cash in its fourth-quarter results—almost a third of its stock market capitalization—and strong profits and revenues. But its stock price fell more than 10% after the results failed to fully meet analysts’ expectations, prompting British tech entrepreneur Alan Sugar to tweet that Apple’s institutional investors were “prostitutes with suits” for their lack of loyalty.

Binyamin Netanyahu may be pushed to the center. Election results confirmed the backlash that Israeli’s prime minister has received from centrist voters. With his party’s parliamentary position weakened, Netanyahu will have to find a compromise between right and left to form a coalition.

The US avoided another fiscal showdown—for now. The Republicans controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to delay the debt ceiling to May and keep the government running through late March. But getting a further fiscal agreement still won’t be easy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on how Apple is being heavily outsold by an upstart competitor in China. “Where Coolpad seems to succeed is making phones that are good enough for China’s newly affluent who are still not all that wealthy. Average disposable income in 2012 was 24, 565 yuan a year (about $4,000) for urban Chinese residents, the bulk of smartphone buyers. The Coolpad starts at 658 yuan while Apple’s iPhones start at 3,088 yuan.”

Matters of debate

How will the global economy do this year? The IMF updates its outlook.

Commodity-driven expansion may not a BRIC make. At least in Brazil’s case (and let’s not forget Russia).

Israel’s election is the “whitest” ever… And six other takeaways from the recent ballot.

…but it wasn’t actually a vote for moderation. The right is still dominant.

Japan’s new leader could be heading for a territorial spat with Russia. Shinzo Abe is demanding Russia return some disputed islands.

In praise of the language police. Why in the world of the internet, we need editors more than ever.

Surprising discoveries

Your garden is a potential war zone. British allotment gardeners are increasingly sabotaging each others’ patches and burning down greenhouses.

Don’t time your workers’ bathroom breaks. If you do it in China, you may have a revolt on your hands.

Subway is being sued for making its sandwiches too short. Two customers of the sandwich chain say its “footlong” sandwiches aren’t, and that thousands, nay, millions of people are being short-changed by about 45 cents per sandwich.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, garden war stories, and sandwich measurements to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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