What to watch for today
US home sales could rise to a three-year high. New home purchases are expected to have slowed to 487,000 for July. But existing home sales earlier this week were unexpectedly strong. Taken together, these could bring total home sales to their highest level since November 2009.
More European green shoots. Economists expect the 0.6% initial estimate of UK second-quarter growth to be revised slightly higher. Germany’s is likely to remain unchanged at 0.7%, but look for signs of strength in private consumption and investments.
Bahrain braces for protests. Inspired by the Egyptians, the main Bahraini opposition groups including Islamists, liberals and nationalists have called for day of pro-democracy protests. The police had used tear gas and birdshot to disperse similar protests last week.
While you were sleeping
Nasdaq flat-lined for three hours. Errors in the feed used to distribute quotes and prices forced America’s second-biggest exchange operator to halt trading in all of the 3,200 companies listed on it. No cause is yet known. Two previous disruptions were blamed on… squirrels.
France said it may be time to send troops to Syria. Outside powers should use force against president Bashar al-Assad’s regime if it turns out to have used poison gas, said France’s foreign minister. The US says there’s no proof yet. Syria won’t let UN weapons inspectors visit the site of Wednesday’s lethal attack.
JC Penney swallowed a poison pill. The floundering retailer adopted a plan that blocks any single investor from holding more than 10% of its shares for a year. Bill Ackman, the largest shareholder and former board member, had said he might sell his 18% stake, which could expose the firm to a hostile takeover.
Hosni Mubarak went free. The 85-year-old former president of Egypt was released from prison to a military hospital; after that he’ll be under house arrest.
Bo Xilai said he was framed. On the first day of his trial, the Chinese politician rebutted corruption charges and called his accuser a “mad dog.” His defiance may mean he has already reached a deal on his sentence.
Chelsea Manning said she was female. The US soldier formerly known as Bradley came out as transgender a day after being sentenced to 35 years for leaking secrets. The army said it won’t give her hormone therapy in jail; her bid for it could set a legal precedent.
Quartz obsession interlude
Zachary M. Seward, Gina Chon, and Kevin J. Delaney on how Apple plans to bypass cable providers and realize its grand vision for TV. “Apple is negotiating with production studios and networks to provide content for a television set that would emphasize apps over cable TV, according to people familiar with those discussions. Among the companies that have talked to Apple are Disney’s ESPN, Time Warner’s HBO, and Viacom, which owns MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central… Sources say Apple’s strategy could include forming its own pay TV service, essentially becoming a cable company itself, except with content delivered entirely over the internet.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Even more pain is coming to emerging markets… The stampede of foreign capital for the exits may be only just beginning.
…but this isn’t Asian financial crisis redux. Bigger foreign reserves, better-run banks, and a more manageable level of foreign debt will help avert a 1997-style meltdown.
The Fed could end up bailing out China. China will have to sell US debt if its credit crunch becomes a financial crisis, and the US central bank will have to respond with more quantitative easing.
Saudi Arabia’s support of Egypt’s military is shortsighted. Its proxy war against the Muslim Brotherhood is bound to backfire.
Hong Kong’s pollution could kill you. A local air-pollution index hit 187, a level health experts say could trigger heart attacks or strokes.
Google pulled the “Boyfriend tracker” app in Brazil. The app let users track their partner’s location and forward duplicates of text messages.
A real-life superhero. A 27-year-old Japanese man in a green outfit and a matching mask helps commuters haul bags and babies at a Tokyo subway station.
Urban-dwelling mammals have bigger brains their rural counterparts. It helps them deal with humans.
Bare chests liven up Austria’s elections. Two candidates borrowed a page from Vladimir Putin’s playbook and went shirtless on the campaign trail.