What to watch for today
China tries to stabilize its stock market. Investors are bracing for another massive sell-off, especially since regulators announced an end to a failed “circuit breaker” rule. A new regulation will limit sales by major shareholders to 1% of holdings within three months.
South Africa’s struggling ruling party celebrates its 104th anniversary. President Jacob Zuma will speak at the African National Congress’ birthday party, but there are fears the event may be disrupted by violent clashes between rival factions.
Egypt’s parliament meets for the first time in three years. The last parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, was dissolved in 2012. The new legislature is heavily dominated by loyalists of president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after the military government cracked down on the opposition during November’s elections.
A closely-watched US unemployment report. With financial markets in chaos, the official update on the US labor market looms even larger, as investors assess whether a strong US economy can counterbalance a slowing China. Analysts expect payroll additions of about 200,000.
While you were sleeping
China’s market mayhem deepened a global stock rout. Equities are off to their worst start in nearly 30 years, with the S&P 500 and MSCI All-Country World Index down about 5% in 2016. Yesterday’s sell-off began with a Chinese stock decline that triggered a cessation of trading after less than 30 minutes.
Saudi Arabia is considering an IPO for the world’s most valuable company. Aramco, which controls the kingdom’s vast oil and gas reserves, could open itself up to outside investors in a share sale, according to deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman. A decision will made in the next few months, he told the Economist.
Syria agreed to let humanitarian aid into Madaya. The United Nations said that it will finally be able to access the city, where residents are reportedly starving to death, “in the coming days.” Madaya has been under siege since July by government forces and their Hezbollah allies.
Apple bought an artificial intelligence start-up. The tech giant acquired Emotient (paywall), which uses AI to analyze facial expressions, for an undisclosed sum. Apple’s plans for the technology are not known, but Emotient has previously been used by advertisers, retailers, and even doctors.
Facebook Messenger has 800 million users. The social network’s messaging platform added more than 100 million new users in the last month and is now almost as big as its corporate sibling WhatsApp. Facebook is also opening Messenger to outside developers, in an attempt to encourage the creation of new software bots.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on the troubling implications of supersized cargo ships. “The pressure on shippers to offer lower and lower rates led to something of an arms race for super-massive, super-efficient ships…But the slowed growth of trade following the Great Recession has led to over-capacity that may drive down prices below the point of survival for some in the industry.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The world should have more currencies—way more. Instead of the euro, we should have one currency per city.
China’s problems are much bigger than the stock market. A flood of inbound cash has reversed its course.
The wage gap is making women sick. Underpaid women are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
The Israeli army recruits autistic teenagers. Their heightened perception is seen as an advantage.
A lab-grown testicle could help wounded soldiers. All they need is a few millimeters of tissue.
Being easily embarrassed has its advantages. Blushing can make you more likable and even boost your sex appeal.
A new technology could harvest energy from walking. “Small bending motions” could become a new source of electricity.
South Korea is blasting K-Pop to punish Kim Jong-un. It will play earsplitting music across the border after North Korea’s nuclear test.