What to watch for today
The BoE clarifies its mixed messages. The central bank’s quarterly inflation report will provide updated forecasts and hints about the timing of raising the UK’s record-low 0.5% interest rate. Economists will pore over anything governor Mark Carney has to say about wage data, growth, and spare capacity in the economy.
Will China’s economy stay propped up? Industrial production and retail sales for July are due. Last month’s factory output and investment growth for the first half of 2014 exceeded expectations, but the bellwether price of copper suggests a possible relapse.
Tencent tries to upstage Alibaba. The Chinese internet giant is due to announce a billion users for its popular WeChat and QQ messaging services when it releases quarterly results, in an attempt to steal Alibaba’s pre-IPO thunder.
A boost for US shopping. July retail sales are expected to post a 0.2% rise and retailer Macy’s should report a jump in profit, which would represent much-needed good news from the US consumer.
While you were sleeping
Bad news for Abenomics. Japan’s economy shrunk by the most since 2011, contracting by 6.8% on an annualized basis due to a sales tax increase. The decline casts doubt (paywall) on whether prime minister Shinzo Abe’s stimulus-heavy policies can revive Japan’s economy.
India’s inflation got worse. The consumer-price index rose 7.96% in July from the previous year, putting more pressure on the central bank to keep interest rates high. Lower-than-normal monsoon rains are threatening to make inflation even worse.
Ukraine and Russia bickered over aid. A convoy of Russian military trucks filled with humanitarian supplies set out for the Ukrainian border, but Kiev vowed to block its entry due to fears that Moscow is trying to prop up pro-Russian separatists.
Nouri al-Maliki backed down. Iraq’s caretaker prime minister urged the army and police to stay out of politics after the allied government of Iran pointedly endorsed his successor, Haider al-Abadi. Meanwhile, the United States is mulling a rescue mission for thousands of stranded Yazidi refugees, and sent an additional 130 military personnel to the Iraqi Kurdish capital, Arbil.
The WHO approved an untested Ebola drug. The World Health Organization said it was ethical to use the experimental treatment ZMapp, which helped treat two US missionaries but did not save a Spanish priest. But the drug’s manufacturer has now shipped the last of its supplies to Africa, and making more will take time.
Candy Crush got crushed. King, the maker of the candy-themed smartphone game, reported weak quarterly results and announced a surprise special dividend, worrying investors. Its shares plunged more than 20% in after-hours trading.
An Iranian woman won math’s top prize. Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, considered the equivalent of math’s Nobel Prize, except it is only awarded every two years.
Quartz obsession interlude
Leo Mirani on how Indians will soon outnumber Americans on the internet. “A flood of cheap smartphones in the market is encouraging rapid internet adoption. According to Kunal Bahl, who runs Snapdeal, one of India’s largest e-commerce sites, 60% of people who buy a mobile phone from his website have never bought a phone before. They’re mainly gravitating toward smartphones like this one, which runs Android 4.4 and costs $50 (and currently is sold out). Everybody from Google to Xiaomi is rushing into the market.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Narendra Modi hasn’t been much of a reformer. The Indian prime minister’s government “has frittered away its honeymoon period.”
Don’t bother with brain-training programs for kids. They’re a waste of time.
Marathons are a gender parable. Men rush to the finish line, while women pace themselves.
World of Warcraft can be a resume booster. Organizing large-scale virtual raids demonstrates enhanced leadership abilities (paywall).
Don’t let your kids grow up to be farmers. The median US farm income is negative $1,453.
Artists, not terrorists, swapped the Brooklyn Bridge flags. It was an homage to German-born bridge engineer John Roebling.
There’s only one thing cuter than baby pandas. A Chinese zoo announced the arrival of the world’s first surviving panda triplets.
Why you can’t catch your own typos. The brain misses tiny errors when it’s focused on more complex mattters.
Animals are prone to gambling too. Monkeys playing video games expected their winning streaks to continue forever.
Pittsburgh’s airport is primed for fracking. It’s sitting on enough natural gas to run the state of Pennsylvania for a year and a half (paywall).
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baby panda triplet pictures, and Daily Brief typos (not “mattters,” that was intentional) to email@example.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.