Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—UK economic check-in, new Google products, robotic farm workers

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The UK’s economy is picking up but still weak. Economists expect second quarter GDP growth to come in at 0.6%, double the 0.3% growth in the first quarter. Strong retail sales and export figures have raised hopes that Britain is on a path of sustained growth. South Korea, which also reports its second quarter GDP figures, is expected to have grown 0.8%.

Human rights hang over cloud US-Vietnam talks. The nations’ leaders will discuss closer economic and military ties amid questions about human rights abuses. Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang dismissed the US concerns.

Earnings: Hits and misses.Amazon is expected to post robust sales growth (paywall), but its ability to generate steady profit margins will be under scrutiny.  General Motor’s earnings are expected to be weak as the car marker was in the midst of overhauling its product line in the second quarter. United Continental Holdings is likely to report muted earnings, as it struggles to put the challenges of the 2010 merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines behind it. Banking major Credit Suisse and consumer goods giant Unilever are among the other companies scheduled to report their earnings.

While you were sleeping

Facebook figured out mobile Madison Avenue. The company swung into a second quarter profit boosted by strong growth of its mobile advertising business. The company’s stock jumped nearly 17% after hours.

Ford did good by America. Ford handily beat expectations driven by strong demand for its pickup trucks in North America and record earnings in the Asia-Pacific. The carmaker also raised its outlook for the rest of the year. Boeing also soared past estimates on the back of strong commercial aircraft sales. PepsiCo, too, reported better-than-expected earnings as higher sales from its snacks division offset weakness in the beverages business. The company also effectively rejected activist investor Nelson Peltz’s proposal that is spin off the soft drinks business and buy Oreo maker Mondelez.

Google upped the ante. The tech giant unveiled the new Nexus 7 tablet powered by the new Android 4.3 operating system and loaded with a host of other features that could make the iPad Mini look pedestrian. Google also announced the $35 ChromeCast, a tiny computer running a stripped-down version of Google Chrome, that will let users stream videos and music on their TVs.

Michael Dell offered to raise his bid, with a caveat.  But the sweetened offer–a bump of $150 million–is contingent on the PC maker’s board changing voting rules. The shareholder vote will now be held on August 2. That’s the plan, at least.

Obama championed the middle class. The US president reiterated his call for fresh spending on infrastructure and education to help middle class Americans and boost the economy.

Egyptian general called for mass demonstrations on Friday. His rationale: Demonstrations would give the army a “mandate” to fight violence that has flared up since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi as president. Meanwhile, the US said it would delay the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on why even as Apple’s China dream fades, India remains a fantasy. “In the second half of last year, Apple signed deals with new distribution partners in India, released the iPhone 5, and launched an aggressive campaign featuring zero-interest financing. As a a result, sales jumped from about 4% of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012 to nearly 16% in the fourth quarter. Yet that cloaks what is actually a lukewarm performance in—it bears repeating—the world’s third-largest smartphone market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Detroit’s bankruptcy should serve as a warning to America. State pension accounting is currently based on fiction, as they don’t account for risk.

Emerging markets may grow slower next decade. Structural issues like state capitalism, the risk of a hard landing in China, and the end of the commodity super-cycle are causes of concern.

A tsunami of anti-American rhetoric is swamping Egypt. Nothing the US does now will lead to any immediate difference in Egypt’s highly polarized public sphere.

Robotic farm workers aren’t a panacea. There are significant challenges in developing and deploying the technology that can do the job.

Surprising discoveries

Poor countries have half the world’s cars but almost all of its fatal car accidents. And car accidents are now the ninth leading cause of deaths worldwide.

Science fiction to reality. Computer users can now talk to their screens using hand gestures.

Music listeners aren’t that into novelty. Study shows that people prefer music they’re familiar with over new music.

The bang-up that brought us gold. Scientists say neutron star collisions are responsible for the formation of virtually all the heavy elements in the universe, including gold and platinum.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pension accounting tips, and origin stories for gold to ideas to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.