Quartz Daily Brief—Hong Kong’s eerie quiet, #Euro #inflation, #China clears #iPhone, curry brain food

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Greece remains on the hook. The country will meet with international creditors to discuss the terms of its public debt. Greece bond yields are on the rise after the government suggested that it may stop taking aid from the International Monetary Fund and avoid painful financial reforms.

Euro zone inflation numbers are due. The European Central Bank target rate is about 2% but analysts expect only 0.3%, which means that ECB president Mario Draghi may have to take even more drastic measures to spur growth.

Afghanistan lets the Americans stay just a little bit longer. Newly sworn president Ashraf Ghani will sign a deal allowing about 10,000 US troops to remain into 2015. On this, at least, Ghani and his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah agree.

Out with the new Windows, in with the old. Microsoft unveils a new version of its operating system, codenamed Threshold. It rolls back many of the disliked changes of the previous version, which the world largely rejected, and aims to be more enterprise-friendly.

Will Walgreens bounce back in the fourth quarter? The US pharmacy giant missed earnings expectations in the third quarter after Obamacare and other external factors weighed on its profit margins. Investors will be looking to see if those problems have been dealt with.

While you were sleeping

Apple finally got the nod to sell its iPhone 6 in China. Regulators approved the new smartphones for sale after mysteriously withholding a crucial license for several weeks. But if the price of gray-market iPhones is anything to go by, demand is not exactly sky-high.

Hong Kong’s streets are eerily quiet. Pro-democracy protests have turned the center of the city into a car-free zone, without any significant confrontations between demonstrators and police overnight. The size of the crowd is smaller this morning, but is expected to swell again in the evening, ahead of tomorrow’s National Day holiday celebrating the founding of China. Follow the action here.

Turkey deployed tanks to counter the Islamic State. Shells fired by the extremist group landed inside Turkey, killing two soldiers and wounding five others. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged that Turkey “can’t stay out” of the US-led campaign against IS.

Manufacturing in China stagnated. The HSBC / Markit purchasing managers’ index, which measures small- and medium-sized businesses, was flat at 50.2 in September, just barely above the the 50 point that divides expansion from contraction. The government has made various attempts, largely unsuccessfully, to jump-start the economy.

The SoftBank-DreamWorks Animation deal might not happen after all. Talks between the Japanese mobile carrier and Hollywood studio have “cooled,” according to The Wall Street Journal (paywall), sending the latter’s stock down as much 8% in after-hours trading. Rumors of the deal only began swirling on Saturday.

Argentina got slapped down again. The US judge who ruled against the country in its dispute with foreign bondholders declared it in contempt of court (paywall) for trying to circumvent his ruling. He hasn’t set a punishment yet, though it will probably be small compared with the country’s outstanding debts.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why China should leave Hong Kong alone. “Since Hong Kong is the global center for yuan trading, it is also a portal through which huge sums of liquidity flow, through both real and fake trade financing. China’s leaders don’t seem to actually understand how dependent their country’s financial system is on these ever-rising tides of liquidity coming in via Hong Kong. And they may not realize how easily a liquidity crisis could occur if, God forbid, they do decide to call in the tanks.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US needs marijuana bars. They would offer public gathering spaces without the social dangers associated with drinking alcohol.

Farm-t0-table dining is broken. Consumers aren’t asking enough of small growers, says one of the movement’s most respected voices.

Chinese tourists are the best. They love to buy expensive gifts, and it’s expected that 166 million of them will spend $155 billion outside the mainland this year.

It’s Reagan’s fault that the NSA is spying on everyone. He let the government snoop on any US company that has “some relationship” with foreigners.

Hamas = Islamic State = Iran = the Nazis. The world according to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Surprising discoveries

The White House has had some shocking security breaches. Like the time a soldier landed a stolen helicopter on the lawn.

Kurdish troops are building tanks out of spare parts. They look like something straight out of Mad Max.

There’s a new world record for the marathon. Kenyan Dennis Kimetto’s time of 2:02:57 broke the previous mark by 26 seconds.

Curry might be good for your brain. A chemical in turmeric helped rats produce restorative neural stem cells.

It costs $2 billion a year to send drinking water to the International Space Station. And you thought Evian was expensive.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#Hollande’s confidence vote, #Alibaba’s raised price, Hong Kong’s typhoon, self-weighing suitcases

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hong Kong is shut down by Typhoon Kalmaegi. The stock exchange is closed and flights are cancelled, though trading may resume later in the day.

Hollande’s moment of truth. The French president’s new cabinet faces a confidence vote. Any major rebellion by Hollande’s Socialist Party could force new elections and open the door to the right-wing National Front.

The world’s two largest beer companies inch towards a tie-up. Anheuser-Busch InBev is reportedly talking to banks about funding a bid for SABMiller that could be worth up to $122 billion. Together, the companies control a third of the world’s beer supply.

Obama ramps up the fight against Ebola. The US president will announce plans to conduct healthcare training and send portable hospitals, doctors and medical supplies to West Africa. Liberia has asked for extra help as the virus threatens to overwhelm the country.

Air France strikes, Lufthansa doesn’t. Some 60% of Air France pilots walked out on Monday, and that was just the first day of a week of planned strikes (if you’re flying, check flight schedules here). Lufthansa pilots just called off plans for their own strike.

While you were sleeping

Alibaba bumped up its IPO price. As a result of strong demand, the Chinese e-commerce giant said it would raise the deal’s price range to $66-$68 a share, from $60-$66 previously. The company is in the midst of its roadshow’s Asia leg, ahead of what could be the biggest IPO in history on Friday.

The US raised pressure on China over anti-competitive behavior. US treasury secretary Jacob Lew wrote to vice premier Wang Yang accusing Beijing of singling out foreign companies, which have come under intense scrutiny from Chinese regulators in recent months.

Rival UK leaders wooed Scotland. Conservative prime minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and Labour leader Ed Miliband made a new promise for powers for Scotland if it rejects independence. The secession referendum takes place on Thursday.

Orange offered $4.4 billion for Spain’s Jazztel. The French telecom joined the rush among European carriers to consolidate by offering an all-cash deal for the Spanish broadband firm.

America Movil courted buyers for its Mexico operations. The carrier approached AT&T and SoftBank to gauge their interest in $17.5 billion worth of assets, according to Bloomberg. Billionaire Carlos Slim is reducing his company’s market share in his home country to avoid antitrust regulations.

A massive pension system said no to hedge funds. The $298 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) is quitting hedge funds, saying they’re too expensive and complex for its investment portfolio.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how Alibaba’s IPO is already creating headaches for Amazon. “Alibaba, the Chinese internet colossus, is expected to pull off the biggest IPO in history this week. It will sell more than $21 billion of stock, according to Renaissance Capital. The thing is, as MarketWatch points out, big investors need to free up capital to participate in the IPO. To do this, they are likely to sell shares of US e-commerce companies (to avoid over-exposure to the sector).  For better or worse, the closest comparable company to Alibaba in the US is Amazon. Ebay’s share price also is under pressure of late.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The UK is asking Scots the wrong question. The way the referendum is framed is likelier to lead to a “yes” vote.

China is partially to blame for the rise of the Islamic State. And now China’s own Muslim dissidents may be finding common cause with IS.

Go ahead, let the kids play on your iPad. We’re all bad at parenting sometimes.

The tech boom has an expiration date. Silicon Valley is taking on too much risk (paywall).

Venezuela’s government should default on its debt. It’s better than defaulting on its obligation to its citizens—which is what it’s doing right now.

Surprising discoveries

7-Up used to contain lithium. The soda was also marketed as a drink to “dispel hangovers.”

The US is divided between those who say “uh” and those who say “um.” Here’s a map of who says what where.

Israel has a giant stone monument older than the pyramids. The 5,000-year-old crescent-shaped object was discovered via a satellite image.

Egypt has the wrong canal on its stamps. They were meant to celebrate the expansion of the Suez Canal, but they show the Panama Canal instead.

Never worry about overweight luggage again. A $200 pledge on Kickstarter could get you a self-weighing suitcase.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, vintage 7-Up, and regional dialect divides to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—#Abe’s new cabinet, #ISIL hostage execution, #China services boom, radioactive boars

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Western countries dig in against Russia. The EU is proposing new, tougher sanctions on Russian companies, and is even considering boycotting the 2018 World Cup (paywall). Barack Obama is headed to Estonia to give US allies a pep talk, and NATO is planning a military exercise in Ukraine this month with more than 1,000 troops.

New gadgets on parade. New smartwatches, phones, and TVs will be on display from manufacturers like Samsung and Sony at the IFA tech show in Berlin, as they attempt to claim a bit of the spotlight ahead of Apple’s Sept. 9 event.

No surprises in Brazil or Canada. In its last monetary policy meeting before the upcoming election, Brazil’s central bank is expected to leave its benchmark rate unchanged (paywall), though the economy has just entered recession. The Bank of Canada will also likely stay the course ahead of rate hikes expected to start next year (paywall).

Economic tales from around the US. The US Federal Reserve releases the Beige Book, a periodic business survey of its 12 regional banks, and is expected to reflect economic growth. US factory and auto orders are also due.

A kiss-and-tell on François Hollande. Paris-Match publishes extracts (French) fromMerci Pour Ce Moment (Thanks For This Moment), a memoir by Valérie Trierweiler, the French president’s ex-partner, whom he spurned for an actress.

While you were sleeping

ISIL beheaded another journalist. Steven Sotloff, an American reporter captured last year in Syria, has been executed by the jihadist group, according to a video that is being checked for authenticity. The video also threatens a British captive, David Haines, with a similar fate.

Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet. Japan’s prime minister appointed an advocate for higher taxes and a pro-China politician (paywall) to key posts. He is also expected to appoint more women in an effort to boost his popularity, but his key economic ministers and chief cabinet secretary aren’t going anywhere.

Good news for China’s non-manufacturing sectors. The services purchasing managers’ index surged to 54.4 in August, according to official data, and to 54.1 according to HSBC/Markit—the strongest level of expansion in 17 months.

British retail prices evened out a bit. After July’s 1.9% fall, the steepest in seven years, prices declined by only 1.6% in August versus the previous year. Food prices rose 0.3%.

Australia GDP growth slowed. The economy decelerated but still beat analysts’ expectations with an increase of 0.5% in the second quarter, due to capital spending and increased consumption.

Halliburton settled lawsuits over the worst oil spill in US history. The contractor agreed to pay $1.1 billion to cover most of the lawsuits over its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP, meanwhile, is trying to unseat the compensation claims administrator, alleging a conflict of interest.

Home Depot investigated a security breach. Hackers may have stolen a large batch of credit- and debit-card data from the retailer, which saw its shares drop as a result. The case may be even bigger than Target’s massive security breach last year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why a shale gas boom in China could be an environmental disaster. “More than three-fifths of China’s shale resources are in areas where water is very hard to come by, as a new study by World Resources Institute details. That’s potentially a big problem given that the way you release gas is spraying millions of liters of water, sand, and chemicals against a shale wall until it cracks open, releasing gas.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Brazil has squandered its oil bonanza. President and former energy minister Dilma Rousseff’s policies have led to stagnant output and increased dependence on imports.

You can’t appeal to ISIL for mercy under Islam. The jihadist group is not interested in arguing theology.

Facebook’s “report abuse” button has become a tool of oppression. A tool to crack down on trolls is being used to silence anti-government dissent.

The West needs to mount a serious response to Ebola. There’s a plan, but it’s not being followed.

Surprising discoveries

Another row over reclining seats. A US plane had to be diverted yet again—the third instance in nine days.

The ice bucket challenge could be fatal if you have a plane dump 396 gallons of water on you.

Radioactive wild boars are on the loose in Germany. The Chernobyl nuclear accident is still affecting their food supply.

Scotland Yard is for sale. Just a brief stroll fromBuckingham Palace, the building is priced at $433 million.

Innovations in cockatoo tool making. A flock emulated one of the birds who carved a stick and used it to retrieve food.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, radioactive boar recipes, and cockatoo tools to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Weekly outlook for EM markets 22/08/2014

Quotes from Barclays Capital:

-Strong US PMI contrasted with weak confidence indicators in Europe and China, which raises some modest concerns for emerging markets. This suggests a net negative knock-on for broader EM growth at the same time that US rates may have bottomed out.

-We think this is a modest risk for EM because the weaker activity outside the US also implies more counter-cyclical policy measures elsewhere (notably from China).

-We acknowledge the need for caution in EM markets and focus on where technicals might be very supportive or where carry is high relative to risk fundamentals.

Source: FxWire Pro

China’s recovery likely to gain momentum in Q4-2014

Quotes from Standard Chartered:

-While we remain cautious about China’s recovery, overall China credit data appears to be improving. Q2 GDP growth was 7.5% y/y, higher than market expectations of 7.4%. We believe the official growth target of 7.5% will be achieved in 2014, on the back of likely positive demand in Q4.

-The People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC’s) looser monetary policy will also feed into the economy further and boost growth. Strong China growth will support increased demand for commodities, after the lull in Q2.

Source: FxWire Pro

Quartz Daily Brief—US jobs, Gaza ceasefire, CIA hacked Senate, risqué peaches

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

A strong US jobs report. Economists expect the US Bureau of Labor statistics to report 225,000 new jobs in July, which would make it the sixth consecutive month of gains above 200,000.

Will the Gaza ceasefire hold? The US and UN say Hamas and Israel have agreed to an unconditional 72-hour ceasefire starting Friday morning. But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up 16,000 more reservists and has vowed to get rid of Hamas’s tunnels, no matter what.

A decision on smartphone chip patents. The International Trade Commission is due to rule on Tela Innovations’s complaint against HTC, Nokia, and LG. Tela also tried to take Google to court recently.

The clock starts ticking for Edward Snowden. The one-year visa Russia granted to the US intelligence whistleblower expired at 4am GMT. He has applied for permanent asylum, and will reportedly receive a decision within 30 days (link in Russian).

While you were sleeping

China’s manufacturing sector saw solid growth… The government’s official purchasing managers’ index and the medium and small business survey conducted by HSBC/Markit both rose to 51.7 in July, which suggests the government’s stimulus measures are working.

…And Japan’s didn’t. The country’s HSBC/Markit PMI for July fell to an adjusted 50.5, down from 51.5 in June, signaling slower growth in factory activity.

Glencore picked up $7 billion in a mine sale. China’s MMG and its partners completed their purchase of Las Bambas, one of the world’s largest copper mines. Glencore needed to sell its mine for China to approve its takeover of Xstrata.

The CIA hacked the US Senate. Officers infiltrated a computer network used by legislators who were investigating the agency’s controversial detention and interrogation program, according to an internal CIA investigation.

A global trade pact was scuttled. Talks on a global customs standard, which would have added a projected 21 million jobs and $1 trillion to the world economy, collapsed after India vetoed the deal. It wanted more leeway to stockpile and subsidize food for its poor than the WTO was willing to give.

A series of gas explosions rocked Taiwan. Blasts caused by ruptured gas pipelines killed at least 22 people and injured over 200 in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Smoke with a “gas-like smell” was seen coming out of street drains before the explosions.

Another bidder appeared for T-Mobile. French telecommunications firm Iliad offered $15 billion in cash for 56.6% of the US mobile provider, countering an offer from Sprint and its Japanese parent SoftBank. Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s owner, has reportedly already said no.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on uncovering who’s to blame for Argentina’s debt default. “There are good cases to blame each party: If the vulture funds had exchanged their bonds earlier, they would have made a decent profit and saved us all this mess—but there’s no law saying they had to do that. If global finance hadn’t integrated the world’s economies, Argentina wouldn’t have suffered from capital flight—but it wouldn’t have had access to capital to begin with absent that system. If Judge Griesa hadn’t issued his controversial order…” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Global unrest is at a all-time high. Radicals, terrorists, and freedom fighters are all better-equipped than they used to be.

Don’t be fooled by falling unemployment rates. They disguise an increase in poorly paid part-time workers.

Private schools undermine India’s caste system. Low-caste students would be more respected than in the public school system.

US universities are selling themselves cheap. They’re taking money from donors and big corporations with too many strings attached.

Kids’ clothes shouldn’t be gender specific. So what if girls have their own science-themed t-shirts?

Surprising discoveries

FedEx can deliver hot coffee. Sent to a customer’s desk, just to prove it can.

Peaches are being sold as sexy butts in China. Just see for yourself (SFW).

Big Brother is watching London’s rowdiest drinkers. They’ll be forced to wear alcohol-monitoring anklets (paywall).

There’s a campaign to rename the kaffir lime. The k-word is racist in South Africa.

A little poison is good for you. It spurs our bodies to create antioxidants.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, non-racist limes, and naughty peaches to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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People’s Bank of China will need to implement more easing policies in H2 2014

Quotes from Standard Chartered:

-China will release official manufacturing PMI data for July on Friday, 1 August. We expect the headline composite index figure to have improved further to 51.2 from 51.0 in June, supporting the official story of a mild growth recovery.

-Other signals from China’s housing market (sales are flat), monetary policy (real rates are still high and banks are cautious about lending to commercial borrowers), and exports (the beginnings of a recovery are only just showing through) suggest a long, tough slog until the end of the year.

-The job situation looks stable thanks to the services sector, which is barely creating jobs, while manufacturing now appears to be losing jobs. In light of our doubts about the recovery, we believe the People’s Bank of China will need to implement more easing policies in H2.