Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Samsung down, Sony up, Banco Espirito wipeout, DC baby boom

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What to watch for today

John Kerry finds a friendlier crowd in India. The US secretary of state is on a three-day trip that he hopes will go better than his disastrous visit to the Middle East. The fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue will be a chance to build relations with prime minister Narendra Modi’s new government.

West Africa tries to get a grip on the Ebola outbreak. Liberia is putting non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave, and may quarantine some communities and shut down schools. Airports worldwide are on alert for signs of the virus.

Tesla’s progress report. The electric-car maker targeted 35,000 deliveries this year, and its second-quarter earnings offer a glimpse into its progress. Investors will be hoping for news on the company’s anticipated $5 billion “gigafactory” plant for making batteries, which could be as big a business as its cars.

Update from the oilfields. ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips both report earnings, following positive results from Royal Dutch Shell (see below) and BP.

While you were sleeping

Samsung had its worst results in two years… Second-quarter operating profit fell 24.6%, in line with the company’s guidance, but it also warned that the second half of the year “will remain a challenge” as its smartphones are squeezed by intense global competition.

…While Sony’s was surprisingly upbeat. The consumer electronics company’s latest quarterly earnings were 26.8 billion yen ($261 million), up from 3.1 billion yen the same period last year. It recently warned investors that it expects to post a full-year net loss—an outlook that remains unchanged.

A record-setting loss in Lisbon. Banco Espirito Santo reported a mammoth €3.6 billion ($4.8 billion) first-half loss, wiping out its capital buffer and forcing a scramble to raise funds. Loans to cash-strapped companies controlled by the Espirito Santo family—some apparently without proper authorization—were largely to blame.

Bad news and good news in the euro zone. Preliminary data from Eurostat showed July inflation was only 0.4%, down from 0.5% in June, in a serious setback for the European Central Bank’s struggle against the threat of deflation. But the euro zone jobless rate edged down to 11.5% in June from 11.6% in May.

Yum said the latest China food scandal is hurting business. The owner of KFC and Pizza Hut said the furor over expired meat has had a ”significant, negative” impact on sales, and could have a material effect on its earnings. Shares in the company fell more than 6% in after-hours trading.

Target hired a PepsiCo exec as its CEO. The beleaguered big-box retailer picked Brian Cornell (paywall), previously head of Pepsi’s US foods division, to lead Target as it tries to win back trust after a credit card security breach.

Royal Dutch Shell promised to do even better next time. The oil and gas supermajor reported $5.1 billion in earnings (paywall), up from $2.4 billion in the same period last year, but said its performance was hampered by its struggling US shale gas business.

China was told to grow more slowly. The International Monetary Fund recommended GDP growth of 6.5-7% in 2015. China’s target is 7.5%, but to achieve it Beijing is relying on unsustainable government investment.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roya Wolverson on why business travelers should think twice about booking with Airbnb. “Airbnb bookings aren’t always the bargain they appear to be. That’s partly because business travelers are more likely to need an entire apartment for work privacy, not just someone’s spare room. A US city-by-city study by the web data company Priceonomics found that while renting a private room on Airbnb is about half as expensive on average than staying in a hotel, renting an entire apartment is less of a bargain, with a cost savings of just over 20%.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The new privilege is denouncing one’s privilege. It’s a go-to move for elitists in an anti-elitist age.

Singapore’s surveillance state is a big data lab. But can it create a harmonious society?

Europe’s museums are too popular. Crowds are forcing institutions to choose between accessibility and art preservation (paywall).

The end of the big-box era is nigh. Customers are edging away from Target and Walmart and turning to the web and smaller boutiques.

Nintendo’s empire is doomed. Smartphones and tablets pose an existential threat to the console videogame business.

Surprising discoveries

Camel milk could be the next superfood. As long as a dangerous respiratory disease doesn’t spoil its image.

Red Robin has America’s most unhealthy meal. Its “Monster” double burger, milkshake, and bottomless fries rack up 3,450 calories.

There are geysers on one of Saturn’s moons. The jets on Enceladus suggest deep oceans of water that could potentially harbor life.

Washington, DC is having a baby boomlet. The government shutdown nine months ago gave federal employees a lot of spare time.

A blood test could predict your risk of suicide. It picks up a genetic mutation in how the brain deals with stress.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Saturnian geyser photos, and Monster burgers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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