What to watch for today
Will Egypt subside or explode? The official death toll in Egypt stands at 278, although the real one may be higher, after security forces crushed two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo, killing supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Nobel laureate and interim vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in protest.
Checking the pulse of US shoppers. Walmart is expected to improve performance from the previous quarter, but investors will focus on what the retailer’s results say about the confidence of US low-income consumers. Earnings from department store chain Kohl’s and fashion retailer Nordstrom will also be closely watched in the light of disappointing numbers from Macy’s.
US inflation slows. Consumer prices are expected to have climbed just 0.2% in July after a 0.5% gain in May. The producer price index for July released on Wednesday came in at 0.1%, well below the Fed’s target (paywall) adding to the debate on when the Fed will start to scale back asset purchases.
Kenya eyes new markets in the east. President Uhuru Kenyatta will begin his state visit to Russia and China in search of deals for exports such as coffee and tea. Also on the agenda: oil, gas and minerals, after Kenya introduced new laws last week to retain a larger share of its natural resources.
A freeze at the world’s largest copper mine. Workers at Chile’s Escondida mine will decide Thursday whether to continue a surprise strike for better conditions and a bonus. Copper traders will be watching closely.
While you were sleeping
UN inspectors planned a trip to Syria. The country’s government has agreed to a two-week visit by experts investigating claims that chemical weapons were used on civilians during Syria’s bloody and ongoing civil war.
A flexing of muscles in Asia. On Thursday, the anniversary of Japan’s defeat during World War Two, at least two cabinet members visited a controversial shrine for war dead and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering. Meanwhile, China began live-fire exercises in the East China Sea.
The Dreamliner nightmare continues. ANA Airlines, the biggest operator of Boeing’s beleaguered flagship aircraft, said it found wiring problems in the plane’s fire suppression systems.
Billionaires dump gold… John Paulson sold more than half his holdings in the world’s largest gold fund, SPDR Gold Trust, and George Soros dumped his entire stake during the second quarter, according to SEC filings, as global investors lose faith in the metal and futures plummet.
…buy pianos instead. Steinway Musical Instruments, the US firm famous for its grand pianos, agreed to a $512 million buyout offer from hedge fund Paulson & Co. The $40 per share in cash trumped an earlier deal with Kohlberg & Company. Here’s how the pianos are made.
Lenovo’s inexorable rise. The Chinese PC-turned-smartphone maker reported strong first quarter net income, up 23% to $173.9 million, smashing estimates as the company weathers the PC decline with mobile phone sales in emerging markets.
Cisco announced big cuts. Shares in the US-based network systems manufacturer plummeted on Wednesday as the company said that it would cut 5% of its workforce (paywall), or 4,000 jobs, in the face of an unstable business environment and fluctuating global demand.
Charges against the JP Morgan duo. US prosecutors filed criminal charges against two former employees at the bank for allegedly trying to cover last year’s $6.2 billion trading loss. But do such actions make the bank any less too-big-to-jail?
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on why China’s arms industry is hoping for some good PR from Syrian rebels. “Arms dealing is a competitive business, and brand-name recognition matters—just look at the AK-47. China is supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war, but that inconvenient fact hasn’t stopped its arms industry from hoping that Assad’s opponents can give Chinese weapons a little bit of a profile boost. Sadly for the manufacturers, the publicity might not be all that positive.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
“China cannot be murdered, therefore it must be persuaded to commit suicide.” Western anti-China rhetoric, according to the Global Times.
Suspend aid to Egypt. The violence perpetrated by the Egyptian military must not be rewarded with American money.
America already has too few airlines. The US antitrust action against the American/US Airways merger is too late for consumers.
There’s a glass ceiling for locals in Asia. Multinational companies still rely on expatriates to fill top jobs (paywall).
The Kindly Brontosaurus. How to manipulate airport gate agents and always get a seat by becoming a benevolent, hard-to-ignore presence.
Vietnam can’t find enough communists. The government is offering to waive university fees for students also studying Marxism, Leninism or Ho Chi Minh ideology.
Beyond Silicon Valley. Boulder, Colorado, has twice the number of new businesses per capita.
Chinese patients are clamoring to get stung. Bee sting acupuncture is the latest health fad.
What’s killing the bees? Possibly your garden. Plants bought from US nurseries are contaminated with pesticides lethal to bees.
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