Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—China reassures markets, Samsung’s new devices, ancient Egyptian prenups

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What to watch for today

Samsung unveils two new devices. The world’s biggest smartphone producer is expected to introduce two larger models in its flagship Galaxy smartphone line, as it tries to bounce back from slumping sales—caused in part by new, larger iPhones.

The maker of “Candy Crush” reports earnings. King Digital is expected to deliver underwhelming earnings due to a lack of new releases following the success of Candy Crush Saga. A strong dollar is also expected to hurt the company’s profit.

US retail sales for July. Economists expect that consumer spending bounced back after a June slump, boosted by car sales, job growth, and falling gas prices.

Who made how much? Aegon NV, Nordstrom, Advanced Auto Parts, Kohl’s, Coty, BanColumbia, and a number of pharmaceutical companies report their results.

While you were sleeping

China dismissed fears of a currency war. The central bank said there is no basis for continued currency devaluation and that the yuan could in fact appreciate again in the future. That supports an earlier announcement that markets will better dictate the yuan’s value; the central bank lowered its peg by 1.1% today.

News Corp swung to a loss. The media group reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss attributable to shareholders of $379 million, down from a $12 million profit a year earlier. But investors sent the stock higher in extended trading due to cost-cutting at its news operation and reports of a potential buyer for its digital education company.

NBCUniversal bought a $200-million stake in Vox. The Comcast-owned broadcaster valued the internet media company at around $1 billion, after several reports suggested it might invest in BuzzFeed as well. Vox’s stable of websites attract younger news seekers, and the two companies are expected to collaborate on ad sales and video production.

Blasts in China killed at least 17. At a dock in the city of Tianjin, multiple explosions from a shipping accident were felt several kilometers away. A shipment of “dangerous goods” caught alight during the evening, sending fireballs hundreds of meters into the sky.

Concern grew over a Japanese contraction. Core machinery orders fell sharply in June, suggesting weaker company expenditure and adding to fears that the economy contracted in the second quarter. But the government suggested the 7.9% drop was largely because of strong May numbers, and that Japan’s economy is still on track.

John Kerry warned against rejecting the Iran nuclear deal. The US secretary of state said walking away from the deal will give Washington little leverage to restore the multi-lateral sanctions that cratered Iran’s economy. The consequences, he said, could lead to the end of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  

Quartz obsession interlude

Alice Truong on the rise of Google’s new CEO, Sundar Pichai. “Many employees have praised Pichai for his management style, painting him as a compassionate leader who recruited, mentored, and invested in the people who worked for him—a major contrast to longtime Google executive Marissa Mayer, current CEO of Yahoo.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Oversensitivity is killing US higher education. Protecting students from potentially offensive words and ideas is disastrous for education.

France should bid adieu to its 35-hour work week. It has outlived its usefulness.

Only bellwether politicians oppose the Iran deal. Nuclear scientists and arms experts are all for it.

Olympic gender norms are mired in the past. It’s time to end antiquated ideas about what sports are “appropriate” for women.

Surprising discoveries

China unveiled an apparent copy of a US landmark. Chicago thinks a new sculpture is a rip-off of its Cloud Gate.

Ancient Egyptians signed eight-foot-long prenups. One promised a women silver for the rest of her life, should the couple divorce.

Drone racing is a $1 million sport. The Drone Racing League wants to join other “fast-twitch” events like competitive videogaming.

A newly discovered octopus has an unusual mating style. Its “beak to beak” method has been described as “romantic.”

An eagle knocked a drone out of the sky. The bird is fine, but the drone suffered minor damage.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, octopus love hotels, and ancient prenups to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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