Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Bernanke’s words, Burberry’s numbers, Libor profits, lying rappers

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What to watch for today

A Chinese trade turnaround. Exports are expected to increase 3.9% on an annual basis in June, while imports rise 6.2%. In May, exports had grown at their slowest pace in a year and imports declined 0.3%, after a government  crackdown on false trade invoicing.

More reading of Ben Bernanke’s tea leaves. Given the US Federal Reserve’s recent hints about tapering its asset purchases, all eyes will be on the chairman’s speech at the National Bureau of Economic Research conference. And also on minutes of the June 18-19 Fed meeting, released today.

Another rate hike in Brazil? The central bank is expected to raise benchmark rates by 50 basis points to 8.5% as part of its efforts to rein in inflation.

Yum Brands’ woes in China. The fast-food behemoth is likely to report a 19% drop in earnings and a 7.6% fall in sales in the second quarter. The key question is how badly the owner of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut has been hit in China by bird flu and quality problems with its chicken suppliers.

Burberry is fashionable as ever. The luxury fashion retailer is forecast to report a strong 6% increase in like-for-like sales. Keep an eye, too, on whether it bumps up its full-year sales target.

At last that saga’s over. Japan’s SoftBank expects to complete its $21.6 billion acquisition of US carrier Sprint Nextel after a messy, months-long bidding war. The deal got the clearance from US regulators last week.

While you were sleeping

Egypt got an interim prime minister. It’s liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawy, who unlike the previous proposal, Mohamed El-Baradei, is acceptable to all the parties. Also, elections will be held in six months, sooner than expected. Meanwhile, Gulf states pledged $8 billion in aid to help ease the current crisis.

A fresh start for Libor. Trans-Atlantic stock-exchange operator NYSE Euronext won the contract to administer the benchmark rate, the basis for $350-trillion-worth of financial contracts, which was the subject of a manipulation scandal last year. It reportedly paid just $1.49, but managing Libor is in fact a lucrative proposition.

A supermarket supermerger. The largest US grocery store chain, Kroger, bought smaller rival Harris Teeter Supermarkets. The deal gets Kroger customers into the southeastern and mid-Atlantic US, and is also a shot in the arm for the anemic US M&A market.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded Italy. The ratings agency pushed Italy’s sovereign credit rating to BBB, two levels above junk territory, and left it on negative outlook, meaning another downgrade could be imminent.

The IMF downgraded the global economy. The Fund forecast world GDP would grow 3.1% in 2013 and 3.8% in 2014, 0.2 percentage points lower than its forecast in April. The IMF said emerging markets are feeling the pain of the multi-speed recovery.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on how carbon emissions are falling, but not because of worries about climate change. “In the US, CO2 emissions have fallen to 1994 levels, and president Barack Obama vows to cut them even further. But the main cause of the fall thus far has not been climate policy, but more efficient vehicles, less driving, and a shift to cheap natural gas in power plants… In both China and India, the main reason is financial—neither the governments nor companies can afford to keep subsidizing natural gas consumption. For instance, PetroChina lost $6.8 billion in 2012 selling gas below cost.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US is in a no-win position in Syria. Maybe it’s time it learned a few lessons from Russia.

How China will create jobs in the US. Thanks to its surging import demand in the next five years.

Can the BRICs get back to high growth? Perhaps, but not without structural reforms.

In the office, your ego is your enemy. Executives throw good money after bad investments because they don’t want to be seen as failures.

Surprising discoveries

Most rap musicians lie about their wealth. At least in their rap lyrics.

70% of Russia’s readers read e-books. But up to 95% of the downloads are pirated.

Why toothpaste makes orange juice taste bad. The chemicals in toothpaste make the tongue more sensitive to bitter flavors.

Indians get the world’s highest pay rises. But the bulk of them is eaten up by inflation.

What fun it is being in the Chinese military police! They train by playing video games and improve morale using “smile walls.”

Listen to the news in Latin. A Finnish radio show is trying to make the ancient language a living one (paywall).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rap lyrics, and pictures for our smile wall to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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