What to watch for today
Alibaba reports earnings. Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant is aggressively seeking business outside of China, and is having a harder time generating revenue domestically. Fiscal first-quarter net income is expected to decline by more than 50% as the company invests in mobile internet and offline businesses.
Macy’s reports earnings. The biggest US clothing retailer is expected to post slightly lower revenues, due in part to lower handbag sales. Investors will also be looking for any potential moves involving the company’s massive real estate holdings.
New Delhi considers selling some of Coal India. The government may offload a 5%-10% ownership stake in the state-owned firm. It sold 10% in January, for Rs 22,557 crore ($3.5 billion), and still owns 80% of the company.
The US delivers data on oil stockpiles. The weekly report on crude inventory could nudge prices back up, after benchmarks tumbled on Tuesday in the wake of China’s yuan devaluation.
While you were sleeping
China’s currency kept on falling… The central bank lowered the yuan conversion rate for the second day running, this time by 1.6%, sending the yuan to 6.44 to the dollar from 6.32 yesterday. The move was part of China’s new policy of allowing its currency to better follow its market value.
…and its economy suffered multiple blows. China’s industrial output rose by 6% in July from a year earlier, missing analyst estimates, while retail sales grew at their slowest pace since 2000; fixed-asset investment also missed estimates. That puts heavy pressure on the country’s GDP growth target of 7% for the year, and could force the yuan lower.
Pearson sold its stake in the Economist. The Economist Group itself agreed to buy some of the publisher’s stake in the 172-year-old magazine for £182 million ($283.1 million), while current shareholder Exor—which controls Fiat Chrysler—will pay £287 million for Pearson’s remaining stake. Past Economist editors expressed their support for the move (pdf). After selling the Financial Times last month, Pearson has now exited the publishing business.
G4S reported mixed results. First-half earnings-per-share for the world’s largest security company by market capitalization fell to 2.3 pence ($0.36), from 5 pence a year earlier, on costly restructuring charges (paywall). That was masked by an overall rise in adjusted operating profit, which broadly met expectations.
Turkey hinted at the use of ground troops in Syria. Prime minster Ahmet Davutoglu told the BBC he would like to see a no-fly zone over certain parts of Syria and didn’t rule out sending troops to end the violence. He also criticized the UN security council for not stopping the atrocities in Syria.
Japanese producer prices took a dive. Producer-price inflation for July fell by 3% from a year earlier (paywall), its biggest tumble since 2009 and worse than expected. That came as export prices fell sharply and import prices crashed by more than 10% compared with a year earlier, adding pressure on a central bank tasked with achieving 2% inflation.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nikhil Sonnad on Apple’s taste in music. “Apple is like your friend who’s really into music but not the one who’s really crazy. The top tracks on Beats 1 tend to either pair relatively obscure artists with musical celebrity like Drake or Kanye West, or they are indie stars with increasing mainstream appeal, like The Weeknd or Jamie XX.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Moderate Republicans’ silence is worsening US race relations. Mainstream right-wingers should speak up against an extreme right that downplays the issue of race.
Faith in science can become another form of religion. Both ends of the spectrum can lead to irrational extremism.
Foreign real estate buyers aren’t ruining your city. They’re only buying a small amount of property, and you’ll miss them when they sell.
Europe’s human rights ideals are paper-thin. The tenants it holds dear don’t apply to migrants.
The worst thing about life in Russia is dill. The national herb taints every plate of food.
A US elementary-school basketball team was disqualified for fielding a girl. Officials refused to let the rest of the team play as boys-only (paywall).
The universe is dying. New research indicates that all the stars in the universe are dimming, slowly but surely.
Londoners can now get drunk without drinking. A pop-up bar has a humidifier that lets patrons breathe in booze.
Google is helping the fight against ISIL. The company’s software is essential to coordination between US forces and Kurdish militias.
Venting just makes you angrier. Angry emails are particularly unhelpful, no matter who receives them.
Correction: In yesterday’s brief, we erroneously mentioned that corruption in Nigeria was believed to have cost $150 million over 10 years; it is actually $150 billion.