Quartz Daily Brief—Israel-Hamas ceasefire, Microsoft’s layoffs, Glaxo’s China bribery, UAE’s Mars mission

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What to watch for today

A short ceasefire between Israel and Hamas comes to an end. A five-hour halt in fighting to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza will end at 3pm local time (8am EDT). Israel warned that a ground invasion is still being considered, as Hamas reportedly prepared to present its terms for a more lasting ceasefire.

Morgan Stanley could steal Goldman’s thunder. The last US big bank to report second-quarter earnings may beat out Goldman Sachs as Wall Street’s biggest earner from equity trades.

Microsoft layoffs loom. The iconic software firm is set to announce the biggest job cuts in its history as CEO Satya Nadella reshapes Microsoft to compete with smaller, nimbler rivals.

Google’s mobile rewards. The company’s push into smartphone and tablet search ads, along with growing YouTube ad revenue, should boost its quarterly earnings.

While you were sleeping

The US imposed tougher sanctions on Russia. President Barack Obama targeted oil giant Rosneft as well as Russia’s broader energy, finance, and defense industries. The EU followed up with softer sanctions of its own, cutting off development bank funding for Russian public-sector projects, and said that it could unveil tougher US-style sanctions at the end of the month.

Novartis brushed off an earnings miss. Second-quarter profits narrowly missed expectations due in part to losses in its vaccine unit, but the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company reiterated its full-year forecasts. Results from a major trial of a heart drug are due in August.

Volkswagen made eyes at Fiat Chrysler. The German automaker has held talks about purchasing its Italian counterpart, according to a German magazine citing unnamed sources. Fiat’s owners reportedly want to shift focus to Ferrari and ditch its traditional auto business.

GlaxoSmithKline fessed up to Chinese bribery. US investigators will look for similarities between a newly revealed 2001 bribery case and current allegations of improper practices at the pharmaceutical company’s China unit, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Any similarities could lead to much tougher charges.

Carrefour’s global sales defied its challenges. The France-based retailer said global revenues were up 4.9% in the second quarter, despite a downturn in its Asia operations and currency fluctuations in Latin America. Like-for-like sales in emerging markets were up 12.1%.

John Malone bought into British TV. The cable billionaire took a small step toward a potential buyout of UK broadcaster ITV, which produces ”Downton Abbey.” Malone bought a 6.4% stake for $824 million from BSkyB, driving up ITV’s shares.

Tony Abbott scrapped Australia’s carbon tax. The prime minister plans to “unshackle” the economy to encourage growth. Green groups are dismayed at the move, which would make it difficult for Australia to meet its carbon emissions targets.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roya Wolverson on Urban Outfitters offending everyone except suburban American teens. “Urban Outfitters’s latest faux pas is a case-in-point: it had to pull a duvet cover featuring Lord Ganesh, the Hindu deity with the head of an elephant, from its website and issue an apology after some vocal Hindu activists protested the use of the image on a bedspread. It isn’t the first time Urban Outfitters’s designs have caused a ruckus among Hindus, not to mention people of other cultures.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Hipsters should stop drinking almond milk. It’s a waste of nutrients and resources.

Everyone should shower like the Japanese. Bathrooms elsewhere are wasteful and inefficient.

Fox and Time Warner can’t go it alone. To survive upheaval in their industry, they need to get bigger together.

The Myers-Briggs personality test is useless. The questionnaire not supported by scientific evidence.

Surprising discoveries

Stop the “this weekend” vs ”next weekend” madness. The second weekend from now should be called “oxt weekend.

A French blogger was fined for a negative restaurant review. Specifically because it was too prominent on Google.

Ultra-pure water can be deadly. It tastes of nothing and will suck the electrolytes right out of you.

The UAE is going to Mars. The country’s unmanned probe will be the Arab world’s first space mission.

Move over, BRICS, there’s a new acronym in town. Create your own with our emerging economic bloc generator.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, emerging economy acronyms, and plans for oxt weekend to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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