Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China sends stocks lower, Assad’s allies, robot chefs

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What to watch for today

Boeing employees take the aircraft maker to court. A class-action lawsuit brought by 190,000 workers and retirees of Boeing accuses the US aerospace company of mismanaging their pension investments, resulting in high investment fees. Their federal court case opens today (paywall).

South Sudan flirts with a peace deal. President Salva Kiir said he may sign an agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar to demilitarize the capital of Juba and enable rebels to appoint two state governors. The UN Security Council has threatened to impose sanctions if Kiir doesn’t sign by Sept. 1.

WPP’s quarterly update. The world’s largest advertising company, which owns agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, is expected to report a rise of 12% in profits. CEO Martin Sorrell says China will continue to be the most important global advertising market, despite its recent troubles.

US fashion brands report results. Abercrombie & Fitch will likely report another quarter of falling sales, its tenth in a row. PVH Corp, which owns the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands, is also expected to report lower than expected earnings. US investors will also be looking for an announcement on non-defense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft. It’s used as a proxy for businesses’ plans for spending.

While you were sleeping

China’s stocks reacted with confusion to an interest-rate cut… The Shanghai composite index rallied by about 3% in early trading, but ended 1.3% down after the Chinese central bank cut rates again overnight. The Shenzhen index also rose and fell several times in the morning, ending down 0.6%. The government’s failure to calm market volatility has raised questions (paywall) about whether prime minister Li Keqiang will be forced out of his position.

…but European markets just fell. Stock markets in the UK, Germany, and France were all more than 1% lower in mid-morning trading as the knock-on effect of China’s tumbling stocks played out. That said, Japanese and Korean stocks bucked the trend and rallied; the Nikkei 225 rose 3.2% and the Seoul Composite was up 2.6%.

Syria’s president said he was still confident in his allies. Bashar al-Assad told a Lebanese television station that he believed Russia and Iran, which have supported his government during the last four years of conflict in Syria, would continue to stand by him—even though relations between Iran and the rest of the world have begun to thaw. About 250,000 people have already died in the conflict.

South Korean retailers got a boost. Department store sales rose 0.7% in July (paywall) from a year earlier, a sign that things are returning to normal after a drop of 11.9% in June due to the MERS crisis; the respiratory disease killed 36 people in South Korea and damaged its valuable tourism industry.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jake Flanagin on what ending birthright citizenship would mean in the US. “Repealing birthright citizenship sends a powerful message: The kind of immigrant who received birthright citizenship in the past (mainly from Europe) was adding to the national equation; the kind of immigrant arriving today (mainly from Latin America) will not.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop checking your stocks. The more you look at them, the more likely they are to be down.

Is your summer reading assignment offensive? Too bad. Higher education requires exposure to new ideas, even if they make you uncomfortable.

Black holes aren’t inescapable after all. Stephen Hawking has a theory about how a particle’s properties can leak out.

All European countries should follow Germany’s lead on migrants. It has offered all Syrian migrants who made it to the country the right to claim asylum.

Jimmy Carter’s legacy has been vastly underrated. The former US president deserves more credit for his actions in his office, not just afterwards.

Surprising discoveries

Robots are learning how to cook us breakfast. They can parse how-to websites to figure out how best to make pancakes, for example.

The Middle East is a bright spot for air quality. It’s the only region in Asia where pollution is decreasing.

Public birthday celebrations are illegal in Tajikistan. One man got busted after posting party photos on social media.

South Africans found humor in a hashtag when their currency tanked. Lots of things are #StrongerThanTheRand.

The US and Russia can’t agree on how to handle outer-space pee. The International Space Station has two different purification systems.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Tajikistani birthday invites, and how we deal with interstellar human waste to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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