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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China services down, EU services up, Gaza war wind-down, South Korean cyborgs

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

The Gaza war may be winding down. A 72-hour ceasefire brokered by Egypt began at 8am local time, and Israel said it has withdrawn all ground troops from Gaza. Talks between Israel and Hamas are planned for Cairo in the coming days; some 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died in the fighting.

Russian troops are massing on the Ukraine border. The government in Kiev has made gains against pro-Russian separatists, but in response Moscow has built up a battle-ready force of about 20,000 troops that could cross the border with little or no warning, the New York Times reports, citing anonymous Western officials.

Moguls and celebrities attend “Google Camp.” The tech firm’s version of the Davos confab kicks off at a resort in Sicily. Attendees include Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Comcast’s Brian Roberts.

Time Inc. and Disney earnings. Disney is set to see profits soar thanks to “Frozen”-related sales and broadcasts of the FIFA World Cup on ESPN. Time Inc. is scheduled to report for the first time as a standalone company; its share price has risen on rumors it might be bought.

A check-up on the US services sector. Both Markit and the Institute for Supply Management release purchasing managers’ indices for the non-manufacturing sector in July.

While you were sleeping

China’s service sector plummeted… The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers index for services fell to 50.0 in July—the midpoint between expansion and contraction—from 53.1 in June. The data suggest the economy is stalling despite recent government stimulus measures.

…But the euro zone’s soared. The Markit services purchasing managers’ index rose to 54.2 in July from 52.8 in June, and pushed the composite index—which also includes manufacturing—to 53.8 from 52.8. Unemployment in the bloc remains stubbornly high.

Credit Agricole paid dearly for its exposure to Banco Espirito Santo. France’s third-largest bank by market value saw its second-quarter net profit fall 98% to €17 million ($23 million), after it registered €708 million in costs attributed to its stake in the failed bank. Investors didn’t seem to mind though—the bank’s stock rose about 5% in morning trading.

A pork IPO made a sizzling debut. Shares of China’s WH Group, which bought US-based Smithfield Foods last year, opened up nearly 10% on its debut in Hong Kong. The company raised $2 billion in its second attempt at an IPO.

Toyota and BMW celebrated SUV sales. BMW reported its highest profitability from car-making in three years thanks to the popularity of its X5 vehicle in China, the world’s largest auto market. Toyota’s operating profit rose 4.4% in the April-June quarter from a the same period last year on the back of its SUV sales in the US, the world’s second-largest auto market.

A China-Canada diplomatic tiff may have just got a lot bigger. Chinese authorities are investigating a Canadian couple who ran a coffee shop in the country’s northeast, for “collecting and stealing” military intelligence. Last week the Canadian government protested to Beijing over a hacking attack on a key computer network.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on English soccer team Manchester United battling it out on the pitch and in the stock market.  “The club’s controlling shareholders, the Glazer family (which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL franchise), are taking advantage of a recent uptick in the stock price, fueled by the signing of lucrative commercial deals and the appointment of a new manager, to unload some of their holdings. This week, they plan to sell about 5% of the company for more than $100 million in proceeds, while maintaining their controlling stake.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

For real peace, Hamas needs to be recognized as a legitimate political power. So says Jimmy Carter.

If you say you care about climate change, put your money where your mouth is: Stop eating meat.

France and Britain’s Middle East is unravelling. They drew up unsustainable borders in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Abenomics is working for Japanese women. They’re now more likely to be in work than women in the US (paywall).

Venture-capital funding can be toxic for startups. It’s distracting, burdensome, dilutive, and doesn’t help that much.

Surprising discoveries

You can rent a herd of goats to clear your lawn. They eat your grass so you don’t have to.

Charles Dickens’ walks were just as important as his writing sessions. Science says you should leave work for a walk at 2 pm.

Finally, a pro-gun children’s book. “My Parents Open Carry” follow a 13-year-old and her handgun-toting mom and dad.

A hotel fines newlyweds $500 for every online negative review. The policy is clearly laid out on its website.

Cyborgs are working in a South Korean shipyard. Workers using ”wearable robotics” can lift massive objects without breaking a sweat.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, shipyard cyborgs, and Dickensian walking strategies to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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