Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China dismisses currency fears, new Samsung phones, 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. Following its third straight daily devaluation—the yuan peg was lowered by 1.1% today—the central bank said there is no basis for continued currency devaluation and that the yuan could actually appreciate again in the future. That supports an earlier announcement that markets will better dictate the yuan’s value.

Maersk beat expectations despite a slowdown. The world’s largest container-shipping line reported a second-quarter net income of $1.1 billion, down from a year earlier but much higher than anticipated. Maersk maintained its full-year forecast as fuel costs and freight rates fell by roughly equal measures.

Nestle had a tough quarter. The world’s largest packaged food company reported a first-half net profit of 4.5 billion Swiss francs ($4.6 billion), lower than expected as previously fast-growing emerging markets slowed down. But investors sent the share price higher after seeing a 4.5% increase in organic sales growth.

The death toll from a Chinese dock blast rose. At least 44 people are known to have died after two explosions occurred in a warehouse in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin. The warehouse was storing “dangerous and chemical goods” and erupted in a fire visible from weather satellites; more than 500 people have been injured.

Roche extended its move into diagnostics. The Swiss healthcare company agreed to pay an initial $190 million for the Los Angeles-based GeneWEAVE Biosciences, which can identify drug-resistant bacteria. Roche will pay up to $235 million more later depending on product development; it spent over half a billion dollars last year expanding its diagnostic unit.

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.

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.

Maybe China has no grand plan. Its recent currency amendments might be nothing more than clutching at straws.

Our morality is what defines our personalities. That’s a challenge to the widely-accepted philosophy that our memories make us who we are.

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.

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.

Los Angeles is throwing millions of balls in its water reservoirs. They will slow down evaporation.

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

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