Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Stock markets calm, Toyota in Tianjin, meditative videogame

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What to watch for today

Toyota restarts in Tianjin. Workers will prepare for a resumption of production in the Chinese city following 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%.

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

US central bankers meet in Jackson Hole. Fed chair Janet Yellen will skip 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.

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

Asia-Pacific stocks rebounded. The chief indexes of Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia were all up by over 1% in the morning following a major Wall Street rally overnight. Even China’s Shanghai index was up by 1.6%; its Shenzhen stock market was up by 1%. Given the massive volatility of late, though, China’s markets in particular could still swing later.

Schlumberger snapped up an equipment maker. The world’s largest oil services company bought Cameron International for $14.8 billion. The purchase will allow it to bundle its offerings to oil companies, which are under pressure from low oil prices.

Australian business spending fell. Second-quarter capital expenditure was down by 4% (paywall) compared with a year earlier, worse than an expected 2.5% fall. Investment by the mining industry was down 11.3% as falling demand for commodities globally put pressure on the Australian economy.

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.

Barack Obama vowed to raise cyber security concerns with China. The US 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.

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 still nothing more than cannon fodder in Hollywood. The new film No Escape depicts Asian people as evil “others.”

The US heroes of the French train attack were right to dress casual for the Élysée Palace ceremony. Polo shirts and khakis emphasized their understated valor.

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

Surprising discoveries

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

A Harvard sociology lecturer has built some pretty weird sandcastles. They appear to defy gravity.

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

There is a fake Goldman Sachs in China. The original Goldman Sachs is looking into Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Co.

A UK rock band discovered two stowaways in the back of their van. They were desperate migrants trying to get from France to the UK.

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

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