What to watch for today
More violence in Egypt. More muted protests continued on Thursday after an army crackdown took over 600 lives on Wednesday, but the interior ministry warned that security forces would again use live ammunition to counter any attacks. Watch for signals from the US, which said it would review aid to Egypt “in all forms.”
China-Japan saber-rattling. As Japanese politicians visited a war shrine on Thursday, China launched a four-day naval exercise in the East China Sea; expect more posturing from both sides.
Promising signs for the US housing market. The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index is expected to have hit a six-year high in August. That, along with historically low interest rates, is expected to have pushed construction of new homes higher in July.
Steve Jobs biopic hits US theaters. The much anticipated movie on the Apple founder has been panned by critics, but that shouldn’t stop legions of Apple fans from thronging to see it.
While you were sleeping
US data favored an earlier “taper” by the Fed. New unemployment benefit claims fell to a near six-year low, while consumer price inflation showed the largest bump since February. That may encourage the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy sooner.
Wal-Mart forecast a slower year. The world’s largest retailer said it expected sales to grow between 2% and 3% in 2013, compared with a previous range of 5% to 6%, saying higher fuel prices and payroll taxes were eating into its customers’ household budgets. Profits and revenue increases were modest.
Falling PC sales dented Dell’s earnings. Second-quarter earnings tumbled 72%, but still marginally beat expectations. Sales at the PC division fell 5%, bolstering founder Michael Dell’s argument that the company would be better off in private hands.
Sony got a head start in the online pay TV race. The Japanese giant has reportedly reached a preliminary agreement with Viacom to carry the media company’s cable channels on its planned TV service (paywall). Intel and Google are among other rivals hunting for programming rights.
Syrian hackers hit media websites. The pro-regime Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for the attack on the Washington Post, CNN and Time sites. It found a way in by hacking Outbrain, a service web publishers use to recommend content from other websites.
Quartz obsession interlude
Roberto A. Ferdman on why Mexico’s president may quietly be planning to surrender more of the oil industry than his countrymen think. “Not allowing foreign companies to own the oil means Peña Nieto can still tell nationalists, for whom oil is sacrosanct, that the country hasn’t relinquished its precious reserves… Except there seems to be a catch. Peña Nieto appears to have said one thing, but written another. ’If you actually look at the wording of the constitutional reform, it leaves the possibility of production-sharing open,’ director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, Duncan Wood, told Quartz.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Austerity didn’t help Europe’s recover. The credit should go to the ECB for becoming the lender of last resort.
Why a resurgent Japan spooks China. Shinzo Abe’s military ambitions and economic policies will set the two nations on a collision course.
Not all teachers are underpaid. But paying them more doesn’t guarantee a better education for students.
Cable TV is safe, for now. New entrants like Netflix and Amazon don’t have enough content to replace the incumbents.
Why leaders need protégés. Building a loyal cadre of strong performers can extend your reach, realize your vision, and provide a safety net.
Meet the newest carnivore in the Americas. It looks like a mix between a cat and a teddy bear and lives in the high cloud forest of the Andes mountains.
Reading France’s economy in the flea markets. To learn where things are headed, ignore economists and ask people who sell old junk.
A chance to own a home for $1. A former steel town in Indiana is selling abandoned homes in a desperate bid to shore up its tax base.
Want some pineapple juice beer? Brewers in Japan are testing innovations like soft-serve foam, extra-cold brew and beer cocktails to attract younger drinkers (paywall).
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, offbeat economic indicators and wacky beer flavors to email@example.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.