Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China’s currency devaluation, Australia’s climate target, migrants like selfies, too

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What to watch for today

Greece says it is close to a deal. A Greek official confirmed that an agreement over a bailout was set, according to Reuters. Speaking after a 23-hour negotiation session that ended in the early hours of this morning, finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos later told the newswire that only “two or three small issues” remain.

The maker of Norton Antivirus software reports earnings. Rising demand for cybersecurity services isn’t helping Symantec much because its software comes bundled with personal computers—which face declining sales. Analysts will want to know how the company plans to remain competitive.

A check-up on US small businesses. The National Federation of Independent Businesses releases its optimism index for small- and medium-sized enterprises for July, offering insight into what kind of start the third quarter has gotten off to. Analysts expect an uptick from June’s reading.

Earnings are due. Computer Sciences Corporation, Aercap, and Prudential report their quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

China devalued its currency, and markets reacted. The central bank lowered the value of the yuan by 1.9%, its biggest drop in more than 20 years, sending the currency to 6.32 against the dollar, from 6.21 on Monday. That dealt a blow to exporters such as car makers and luxury goods companies that sent European stocks down in the morning. In the Asia-Pacific region, several currencies, including the Australian dollar, lost value; metals also weakened on the news.

Australia revealed its climate change goals. Prime minister Tony Abbott announced a target to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2030, from 2005 levels. That puts Australia’s post-2020 carbon reduction target well behind other Western countries. Conservationists called the pledge “pathetically inadequate.”

Japan reopened its nuclear power industry. The country has restarted its first nuclear reactor since the 2011 Fukushima disaster led to the closure of all nuclear power stations nationwide. New safety rules now apply to reactors, but the public remains critical of nuclear following the Fukushima meltdown.

Nigeria established an anti-corruption committee. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed a team to investigate how best to root out government corruption and to reform the legal system. Buhari was elected in May on a promise to rid Nigeria of corruption that he estimates has cost $150 million over the past decade.

Singapore lowered its GDP growth forecast. The city-state’s government suggested economic growth of 2% to 2.5% this year, lowering its upper limit from 4% previously. That change came after its second-quarter annual GDP growth rate came in at just 1.8%, compared with 2.3% growth a year earlier.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on how the US rocket program has veered off track, again.  “The US government just had to re-up its embarrassing contract with Russia to take astronauts to the ISS—a $66 million extension through 2017, for a total cost to US taxpayers of $490 million. Yes, that’s almost half a billion dollars the US government is paying the Russian government, even as their geo-political relationship has gotten increasingly testy.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Your salary should not be your only income. Everyone needs a side hustle.

Wearing an afro is always political. It’s not just a fashion style, it’s a signifier that evokes a great number of cultural issues.

Conservatives have completely skewed the Iran deal debate. They are increasingly painting US president Barack Obama as an anti-Semite.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page are now “conglomerateurs.” Their jobs will soon be to develop a far more ruthless business sense.

Serena Williams may be the best athlete of her generation. She still has tennis history to make.

Surprising discoveries

Columbia House is dead. The music subscription service of yore has filed for bankruptcy.

A rare white whale was spotted off the Australian coast. Paging Captain Ahab.

Syrian migrants celebrated their arrival in Greece with a selfie. The selfie stick is not just for tourists.

Robots may soon be able to play jazz. The Darpa-backed improvisational system “will be able to jam.”

Russia is getting its caviar from Italy. Italian producers must put Russian labels on it—and remove any “Made in Italy” signs.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot jam sessions, and your side hustle to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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