Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—UK unemployment, Apple’s not-so-cheap iPhones, investing monkeys

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What to watch for today

Diplomatic wrangling over Syria shifts to the UN. The US, Britain and France are working on a resolution to create a timetable for Syria to give up its chemical weapons. Russia is insisting that there can be no such deal unless the US renounces its threat of force.

UK unemployment won’t budge. Economists expect the jobless rate to remain at 7.8% (paywall), where it has stayed since March. But if the rate edges lower, it could increase the pressure on Bank of England to hike rates earlier than expected.

US businesses restock. Wholesale inventories probably rose by 0.3% in July after dropping for three straight months, as companies restock to meet growing demand.

South African factories recover. Manufacturing output for July is expected to have increased 1.4%, partly offsetting the gloom of Tuesday’s trade data that showed the current-account deficit widening to 6.5% of GDP in the second quarter.

Commemorations of 9/11. As Americans prepare to mark the 12th anniversary of the worst terror strike in the nation’s history with solemn ceremonies, hacker groups are threatening to attack US and Israeli websites.

While you were sleeping

Apple showed off two new iPhones; neither is cheap. The iPhone 5C, the stripped-down model with the same features as the previous iPhone 5, will cost $549 in the US without a contract. The 5S, with a faster processor and fingerprint sensor, will cost at least $649. In China, the 5C will start at $733, too high to bring it in reach of many more consumers. By making the iWork software free, though, Apple could pose a challenge to Microsoft Office.

The biggest reshuffle of the Dow in a decade. Goldman Sachs, Visa and Nike will join the most cited but least important stock-market index next week, replacing Alcoa, HP and Bank of America. The shakeup was carried out to diversify the index and remove companies whose stock prices were too low.

The EU’s Tobin tax hit a hurdle. EU lawyers have concluded that the plan for a tax on financial transactions, meant to discourage risk-taking, would be illegal, as it will “exceed member states’ jurisdiction” and infringe on the EU treaty.

Tesco to leave the US after six years of sorrow. The UK retailer will sell most of its Fresh & Easy stores to billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa investment company, for exactly zero dollars. In fact, Tesco will lend Yucaipa £80 million ($126 million) just to take the loss-making unit off its hands.

Intel looks beyond smartphones. The chip maker, which struggled to gain a foothold in the market for smartphone processors, unveiled a a new family of tiny chips called Quark, aimed at wearable devices such as smart watches.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on how how cigarette companies use free-trade deals to sell more cigarettes to women and kids. “As cigarette smoking has fallen in the United States and Europe thanks to public health laws and liability lawsuits, global tobacco companies have increasingly turned to developing markets to expand their business. Now they’re trying to make sure the largest trade agreement since the World Trade Organization gives them the tools they need to stop those countries from adopting the laws that cost them customers in wealthier nations.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Emerging markets should stop trying to prop up their currencies. Instead their central banks should focus on policies that can boost domestic output.

Why the Swiss have only 3% unemployment: apprenticeships. The system lets students mix academic and vocational training and prepare for careers.  

Don’t believe cyberwar scares. Governments are playing up the threat as an excuse to quash internet freedom.

Busy people don’t need time management—they need bandwidth management. Some tips for managing cognitive resources so you work more efficiently.

Surprising discoveries

Monkeys can be rational economic actors too. Scientists find that rhesus macaques make the same basic investment decisions as humans.

Taking political rivalry a bit too far. A Jordanian lawmaker fired a Kalashnikov at a rival in parliament.

Kenya’s underground treasure. The country’s water-starved Turkana County is sitting on enough water to support 40 million people.

You have a pontiff on line 1. Pope Francis is reaching out to faithful by phone to offer comfort and support.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gambling monkeys, and the pope’s phone number to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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