What to watch for today
Egypt simmers. After the government takedown of protest camps in Cairo that killed at least 300 people and injured over 2,000, Egypt is looking fragile. A month-long state of emergency has been declared and curfews imposed, but the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for further demonstrations.
Checking the pulse of US shoppers. Walmart is expected to post improved results but investors will focus on the uncertain confidence of low-income US 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 slowdown. Consumer prices are expected to show just a 0.2% increase in July after a 0.5% gain in June, adding to the debate on when the Fed will scale back asset purchases.
Workers of the world, unite. Copper miners in Chile will decide whether to continue a surprise strike for better conditions and pay. Meanwhile, South Korean auto unions have voted to strike unless their demands—including a $2,400 gold medal for workers with over 40 years of service—are met.
What did Buffett buy? Berkshire Hathaway will reveal details of its investments a day late due to technical glitches. Meanwhile, Dell will report earnings a week early due to “heightened interest” surrounding founder Michael Dell’s buyout offer.
While you were sleeping
A flexing of muscles in Asia. On the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, cabinet members visited a controversial shrine for war dead and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe broke tradition by not expressing remorse for Japan’s aggression. The stance drew angry protests from Japan’s neighbors; China began live-fire exercises in the East China Sea.
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.
H&M sales dipped. The world’s second biggest clothing retailer reported a small decrease in same-store July sales, the first since March.
China’s next anti-trust targets. After cracking down on pharmaceuticals, powdered milk and luxury cars, government regulators will turn their harsh gaze to oil firms, telecoms, and banks, according to state media.
Billionaires bailed on 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.
Lenovo makes the turn. The Chinese hardware maker reported strong first quarter net income, up 23% to $173.9 million, as surging mobile phone sales in emerging markets outweighed declines in the PC market.
Imperial Tobacco prepares to innovate. The British cigarette maker said its sales volumes fell by 7% in the first nine months as a result of austerity in Europe and other difficulties, although it is planning to introduce an alternative nicotine product next year to catch up with competitors cashing in on electronic cigarettes.
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
Keep prison inmates near their families. “Maintaining contact with a parent in prison is critical to a child’s well-being.”
A recovery in Europe is academic for the jobless generation. Young Europeans are still out of work in huge numbers.
China is the key to saving endangered species. Cracking down on the illicit animal trade would help Beijing boost its soft power (paywall).
Suspend aid to Egypt. The violence perpetrated by the Egyptian military must not be rewarded with American money.
China’s population compared to the rest of the world. You may know the figures, but do you know what it looks like on a map?
Induced labor may be linked to higher rates of autism. The correlation is complicated, but the chances of autism are up to 23% higher.
The Kindly Brontosaurus. How to gently manipulate others and always get an airline seat with a benevolent, hard-to-ignore aura.
Vietnam can’t find enough communists. The government is offering to waive university fees for students studying Marxism, Leninism or Ho Chi Minh ideology.