Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The US and China hold a tense trade meeting in Washington. One hundred days after the countries formed the “US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue,” the US is threatening sanctions on Chinese steel, and president Donald Trump is criticizing his counterpart Xi Jinping for not reining in North Korea.
Citigroup names Frankfurt as its post-Brexit European hub. The US bank is expected to announce its retreat from London as the UK moves toward exiting the European Union. Meanwhile Citibank and Bank of America are planning to boost their presence in Dublin.
Germany mulls the future of diesel engines. A court in Stuttgart will hear a lawsuit that could force automakers to retrofit vehicles or even ditch them completely to reduce air pollution.
While you were sleeping
A second Trump-Putin G20 conversation came to light… The US president and his Russian counterpart had an undisclosed conversation—reportedly lasting about an hour and joined only by Putin’s translator—at the G20 summit earlier this month. The Trump administration said any suggestion it tried to hide the conversation was “absurd and malicious.”
…And Trump made his pick for US ambassador to Russia. The White House said he’ll nominate Jon Huntsman, who was ambassador to China under Barack Obama. A former governor of Utah, Huntsman has long been expected to be Trump’s pick for the job. The nomination requires confirmation by the senate.
McCormick said it will buy the food business of Reckitt Benckiser for $4.2 billion. The US maker of spices and seasonings will get brands like French’s mustard and Frank’s RedHot sauce with the acquisition. The sale will allow UK-based Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Durex condoms, to focus more on its newly acquired infant nutrition unit.
Apple named its first-ever managing director for Greater China. Isabel Ge Mahe, who has worked in wireless technology at Apple for about a decade, will coordinate teams across China. Revenue from the region has declined year-on-year for the past five quarters, but it drives much of Apple’s growth.
Nauto lured investments from tech and auto heavyweights. The two-year-old Silicon Valley startup, which makes software for self-driving vehicles, closed a $159 million funding round led by SoftBank and VC firm Greylock Partners. GM, BMW, and Toyota are also on board. CEO Stefan Heck said the firm’s post-funding valuation was shy of $1 billion—”unicorn” status—but he added, “We’re getting there.”
IBM reported its 21st straight quarter of year-on-year revenue declines. On the plus side, Big Blue saw a surge in its cloud business, with sales reaching nearly $4 billion. The tech stalwart is struggling as it transitions from traditional businesses to newer fields like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.
Quartz obsession interlude
Michael Coren on all the times Elon Musk has trash-talked his own stock. “Tesla CEO Elon Musk keeps telling investors Tesla’s stock price is wildly overpriced based on today’s performance despite his faith in its future. Investors keep ignoring him. Tesla is now one of the world’s most valuable carmakers.” Read more here.
Senate dysfunction? / It’s good business. Record highs / everywhere today.
Matters of debate
Apple is experiencing diseconomies of scale. The next iPhone will always be constrained by its own immense production demands.
Robots will take fake news to a new level. Technology could allow us to make videos of events that never happened.
The UK’s new Jane Austen banknotes are a flirtatious lie. The famously plain author has been given the “Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing.”
Manchester residents don’t know how to share. Widespread vandalism and antisocial behavior is making life difficult for a Chinese bike-sharing startup.
Britain is banning ads with gender stereotypes. New legislation prohibits typecasting girls as ballerinas and boys as engineers.
Vomit is a big problem for driverless cars. Ride-sharing companies that go driverless will have to deal with people’s “nasty habit of throwing up in moving vehicles.”
Conservative India’s moral policing extends to Airbnb. Many listings in the country use a version of this caveat: married couples only.
T. Rex was too big to run. New research suggests the dinosaur’s legs would have snapped had it moved any faster than a “brisk walk.”
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