Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—US stock rally, Monsanto drops Syngenta, band van stowaways

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What to watch for today

Toyota restarts work in Tianjin. Workers will come in to prepare for a production restart in the devastated Chinese city. The plant was shut down after a deadly blast at a chemical storage site, which injured 67 Toyota workers and damaged thousands of vehicles.

Is US GDP doing better than we thought? The Commerce Department reports its revised data for the second quarter. Economists expect that the economy grew at a faster annualized rate than the initial measurement of 2.3%.

US central bankers meet in Jackson Hole. Fed chair Janet Yellen will be skipping the annual Wyoming gathering, but other top brass will be in attendance. This year’s topic is “Inflation Dynamics and Monetary Policy”—a timely discussion in the run-up to the Fed’s closely-watched decision on interest rates.

Obama visits New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The US president will face up to the many promises he made for the city’s recovery when he was running for president eight years ago. Many of them had been fulfilled, but the city continues to grapple with inequality, an inadequate education system, and other issues.

Quarterly results keep on turning. Toronto Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Dollar General, J.M. Smucker, Autodesk, Tiffany & Co., and others report their earnings.

While you were sleeping

European stocks slid again, while the US rallied. Following Tuesday’s rebound from the global market selloff—sparked by China’s unstable economy—European optimism sputtered, with the Stoxx 600 dropping 0.8% during late trading in London. Meanwhile, US stocks have mounted a comeback, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq Composite all gaining around 2%.

Monsanto dropped its $46 billion bid to buy Syngenta. The US agriculture giant withdrew its offer to buy the Swiss seed and and pesticide producer Syngenta, after the latter rejected a sweetened deal. The decision to walk away was a surprise ending to the months-long battle that, if successful, would have transformed the global agricultural market.

An on-camera murder in Virginia. A gunman shot and killed a local TV reporter and a cameraman in Virginia during a live broadcast, and footage quickly spread across the internet. Former station employee and suspected shooter Vester L. Flanagan II later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after attempting to flee from police.

Walmart is going to stop selling assault rifles. The world’s largest retailer will take AR-15s and other so-called modern sporting rifles off its US shelves, a move it said was motivated by diminished consumer demand, rather than politics. The company will replace the rifles—carried in less than a third of its stores—with shotguns and other hunting weapons.

BlackRock acquired a robo-advisor company. The world’s largest asset manager bought FutureAdvisor, which uses complex algorithms to manage individual client portfolios, for an undisclosed sum. The company hopes FutureAdvisor can attract millennials and the “mass affluent”—investors with less than $1 million in investable assets.

Obama vowed to raise cyber security concerns with China. The president will ”no doubt” discuss concerns about Chinese hacking when he hosts Chinese president Xi Jinping for a state visit in September, the White House said. The US has accused Chinese hackers of stealing vast troves of government and corporate data, with a US intelligence chief saying, “you have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Mike Murphy on Facebook’s new Siri equivalent. “Facebook is running a small trial of a new service built into Messenger, a virtual assistant called M. The system will be a mix of artificial intelligence and human supervisors who will check to make sure every query is answered… If M proves to be a useful addition, it could further boost the time users spend on the app.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US should stop dithering in the race for Arctic energy. Russia and China are far ahead in their efforts.

To save New Orleans, abandon the Mississippi delta. Levees meant to protect people living at the mouth of river are making things worse.

People of color are nothing more than cannon fodder in Hollywood. The new film ”No Escape” once again depicts Asian people as evil “others.”

The US train heroes in France were right to go casual. Polo shirts and khakis emphasized their understated valor.

Prostitution should remain a crime. Decriminalization would legitimize an inherently exploitative business.

Surprising discoveries

There’s a video game where you quietly tend to virtual plants. It’s a meditative experience that rewards patience over action.

These crazy sandcastles defy gravity. The fleeting wonders on the beach are eventually destroyed by tides—or curious kids.

Technology caught up with Willy Wonka. London viewers can now watch the classic film while eating gum that tastes like a three-course meal.

A UK rock band discovered two stowaways in the back of their van. They were desperate migrants trying to make it out of Calais, France.

Ashley Madison’s female users were largely ” for amusement only.” Men seeking adultery were paying for a fantasy.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, plant-tending high scores, and dinner-flavored bubble gum to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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