Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—American Apparel’s warning, China’s home prices, smuggled ducklings

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What to watch for today

Typhoon Goni disrupts the Philippines. The country’s meteorological officials say the storm will bring winds of 130 kmh (80 mph). While it is unlikely to make landfall, it is expected to strengthen the southwest monsoon.

US retailers announce quarterly results. Wal-Mart is expected to post a fall in earnings, after investing heavily in its physical stores and its online services to counter competition from Amazon. Home Depot is expected to report a strong quarter.

US housing gets another boost. Economists expect that new home construction will climb for a second month. It has been bolstered by lower unemployment and low mortgage rates, as well as warm summer weather that has more people in a house-buying mood.

While you were sleeping

The death toll from a Bangkok blast rose. At least 22 people have died, including tourists from China and the Philippines, and around 120 were injured after a bomb detonated at a popular shrine yesterday. No group has taken responsibility for the attack, but Thailand’s defense minister claims the government has suspects in mind.

China’s property price deflation slowed. New home prices in 70 cities nationwide dropped by 3.7% in July from a year earlier, according to Reuters. That’s the 11th consecutive month of property declines, but the slowest drop this year, suggesting confidence may be returning to the market; prices rose 0.3% from June.

Urban Outfitters missed expectations. The US clothing retailer reported a second-quarter net income of $66.8 million, down slightly from last year on increased competition from brands such as H&M and Zara. Sales growth also came in lower than expected at 4%; the company’s CFO warned that sales in August have so far underperformed.

American Apparel warned of running out of cash. The troubled clothing retailer reported a second-quarter net loss of $19.4 million, worse than its $16.2 million loss a year earlier, on a 17% fall in sales. The company also revealed it has just $11.2 million in cash left—likely not enough to survive the next 12 months—and that shareholders could lose their investments.

The US approved Shell’s Arctic drilling plan. The Obama administration gave final approval to the oil giant to resume drilling in the environmentally sensitive and oil-rich Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast. Drilling was halted in 2012 after several accidents.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on how the US and China are clashing over tracking corrupt Chinese officials. “Chinese agents have crossed the globe to track down economic fugitives and corrupt officials—as well as their overseas assets—through official and unofficial channels, often buoyed by promises of help from foreign governments.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’s time to boycott Amazon. A company that doesn’t respect its own workers doesn’t deserve its customers’ money.

Chinese agents are in the US to save face. For China to ask the US for help in catching its fugitives would be too embarrassing.

You, not stores, are responsible for teaching your kids about gender issues. Good for Target for dropping gendered toy aisles, but the real learning happens at home.

Burger-flipping robots may come sooner than you think. The push to raise fast-food minimum wages could accelerate the process (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Russian border officials burned 50 smuggled ducklings. The Ukrainian fowl did not have the appropriate documents.

There’s an app that drives you to a random bar. It’s a mashup of Uber and Yelp.

Discarded wax figures are getting an afterlife. Tom Cruise has been recast as Jesus at the UK’s Bible Walk museum.

An ancient whistling language could shed light on the human brain. Used in the mountains of Turkey, it carries messages up to three miles (five kilometers).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, whistle messages, and discarded wax figures to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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