Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Facebook earnings, Cameron in Vietnam, Fed expectations, moss viewing

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What to watch for today

Global markets await the Fed. The US central bank ends its two-day meeting and will release a message that investors will pore over for clues of when it might raise the cost of borrowing. It will likely be thin on such clues, but market volatility is expected nevertheless.

David Cameron in Vietnam. The British prime minister’s swing through Southeast Asia is focused on expanding trade ties in a region where British companies do relatively little business. Cameron will also visit Malaysia in the midst of a deepening corruption scandal involving prime minister Najib Razak.

Facebook reports earnings. Bullish investors expect CEO Mark Zuckerberg to announce solid second-quarter growth, after a steep stock market climb that has made his company more valuable than GE and Walmart. Revenue is expected to climb 38% to $4 billion due to stronger mobile and video ads.

Microsoft launches Windows 10. The operating system, released as a free upgrade, is winning largely positive reviews. Just for fun, the update includes a new version of the popular game Minecraft.

More earnings. Anthem, Barclays, Booz Allen, Fidelity, Hilton, Humana, Marriott, MasterCard, Metlife, and PG&E are due to report results.

While you were sleeping

Twitter’s user count worried investors. The microblogging service narrowed its second-quarter net loss to $136.7 million, from $144.6 million a year earlier, on higher ad revenue; but the stock fell by 11% on the slowest user growth since the company went public in 2013. Twitter announced new formatting styles to attract more users.

Yelp made a surprise loss. The operator of the popular review website made a second-quarter loss attributable to shareholders of $1.3 million, compared with a $2.7 million profit a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit for the quarter, but Yelp instead lowered its full-year revenue forecast, on increasing competition and slowing traffic.

Japan’s retail sales dropped again. Sales fell 0.8% in June, marking the third fall this year and adding to manufacturers’ problems caused by soft demand for exports. Some analysts now expect that Japan’s economy contracted in the second quarter.

Indonesia’s consumer confidence hit a three-year low. A MasterCard survey found the export-heavy nation’s consumer confidence fell 25.8 points to 64.3 in the first half of the year, the biggest drop among 17 regional markets. Analysts have pointed to frustrations over the speed at which president Joko Widodo is improving the ease of doing business.

The US said it wouldn’t bail out Puerto Rico. Treasury secretary Jack Lew argued for changes to bankruptcy law (paywall) that would allow the US territory to restructure its debts to avoid a “costly” and disorganized battle with creditors. Lew added that no federal money will be spent to assist Puerto Rico, after it claimed it cannot afford to repay its $72 billion debts.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the 2014 crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. “Virgin Galactic built and designed SpaceShipTwo as part of a joint venture with Scaled Composites, an experimental aerospace company. The craft was designed to be carried to an altitude of about 50,000 feet on a conventional airplane before detaching and rocketing up to 100 kilometers of altitude.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’d be more worrying if robots weren’t taking your job. That would signal a stagnation in general productivity.

Stop capitalizing the word “internet.” It’s technically a proper noun, but nobody thinks of it that way.

We have reached peak vinyl (again). The format’s unlikely resurgence has gone too far, and a downturn is imminent.

David Cameron’s call for transparency is hypocritical. The UK parliament is horribly corrupt.

Turkey’s Syria policy is a disaster. Its air strikes against ISIL and the Kurds are proof of its failure. 

Surprising discoveries

Ukraine has blacklisted Gerard Depardieu. The French actor, who holds a Russian passport, championed Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Conformity is the secret to ants’ heavy lifting. Scientists figured it out by watching the insects carry Cheerios.

The Vikings settled Greenland in search of ivory. Walrus tusks, not farmland, were the priority for the Nordic invaders.

Japan’s latest craze is moss viewing. The key to appreciating moss is getting down to its level.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, walrus tusks, and moss photos to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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