What to watch for today
Egypt’s parliament meets for the first time in three years. The previous parliament, headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, was dissolved in 2012; the current legislature is instead dominated by loyalists of president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
South Africa’s 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.
A closely watched US unemployment report. With financial markets in chaos recently, the official update on the US labor market looms even larger. Analysts expect payroll additions of about 200,000.
While you were sleeping
China’s stock markets returned to normal… The circuit breaker that worked not as intended is gone less than a week after its introduction, and the central bank strengthened the yuan for the first time in nine days. By midday local time, China’s stock markets have been bouncy, but essentially stable.
…After they finished battering the rest of the world. The S&P 500 and MSCI All-Country World Index are both down by about 5% so far this year, making that the worst start of the year for equities in nearly 30 years. Crude and copper also fell to multi-year lows.
Samsung offered a profit warning. The smartphone maker said it expects a fourth-quarter operating profit of 6.1 trillion won ($5.1 billion), lower than analysts expected. But the share price rose anyway; investors are aware that the growth in smartphone demand is waning.
Apple bought an artificial intelligence startup. The tech giant acquired Emotient, which analyzes facial expressions, for an undisclosed sum. Apple’s plans for the technology are unknown, but Emotient has previously been used by advertisers, retailers, and even doctors.
Japanese wages fell for the first time in five months. Real earnings slipped by 0.4% in November (paywall) compared to a year earlier. That could be a bad sign for prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is determined to raise inflation through higher wages.
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. We should have one currency per city.
China’s problems are much bigger than the stock market. A onetime flood of inbound cash has now reversed its course.
“The internet is obsessed with” is a phrase that needs to stop. Your corner of the web does not equal what the other 3 billion users are interested in.
The Israeli army recruits autistic teenagers. Their heightened perception is seen as an advantage.
A lab-grown testicle could help wounded soldiers have children. All that scientists 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.