Douglas Engelbart, Computer Mouse Creator, Visionary, Dies at 88

July 3, 2013

Computer Visionary Who Invented the Mouse

By JOHN MARKOFF

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Douglas C. Engelbart with an early computer mouse in 1968, the year it was unveiled

Douglas C. Engelbart was 25, just engaged to be married and thinking about his future when he had an epiphany in 1950 that would change the world.

He had a good job working at a government aerospace laboratory in California, but he wanted to do something more with his life, something of value that might last, even outlive him. Then it came to him. In a single stroke he had what might be safely called a complete vision of the information age.

The epiphany spoke to him of technology’s potential to expand human intelligence, and from it he spun out a career that indeed had lasting impact. It led to a host of inventions that became the basis for the Internet and the modern personal computer. Read more of this post

How ‘God Bless America’ Became America’s Anthem

How ‘God Bless America’ Became America’s Anthem

The “God Bless America” that we know today was forged from collaboration between its composer, Irving Berlin, and Kate Smith, the performer who first made it famous. Behind the scenes, though, the two of them battled for control of the song. The story begins in 1918, when Berlin was drafted as an Army private, a few months after he officially became a U.S. citizen. While stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, Berlin was asked to write a soldier show to raise money for a community house to be built at the camp. The revue, called “Yip, Yip, Yaphank,” staged at New York City’s Century Theatre, included a blackface number, satirical spoofs of Army life (including “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning”) and Ziegfeld Follies-style dance numbers featuring soldiers in drag that one reviewer characterized as “one long laugh.”

Berlin wrote “God Bless America” as the show’s finale, but decided to end instead with the upbeat “We’re on Our Way to France.” Berlin later said he changed his mind because “God Bless America” was “too obviously patriotic for soldiers to sing.” People in the military already amply demonstrate their patriotism through service, he believed. Patriotic songs were for civilians. Read more of this post

‘Africa’s Oprah’ launches pioneering TV network

‘Africa’s Oprah’ launches pioneering TV network

AP JUL 3, 2013

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Historic: Mosunmola ‘Mo’ Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, attends the launch of the entertainment network on Sunday in Lagos. | AP

LAGOS – A woman who could be considered Africa’s Oprah Winfrey is launching an entertainment network that will be beamed into nearly every country on the continent with programs showcasing its burgeoning middle class. Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, 48, wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans and the rest of the world, and to change how viewers perceive the continent. The network’s programming tackles women’s daily-life subjects — everything from sex tips to skin bleaching. “Not every African woman has a pile of wood on her head and a baby strapped to her back!” Abudu said. “We watch Hollywood as if all of America is Hollywood. In that same vein, we need to start selling the good bits of Africa.” Read more of this post

The Writing of a Great Address: Lincoln began forming his thoughts just after the Battle of Gettysburg.

July 3, 2013, 7:19 p.m. ET

The Writing of a Great Address

Lincoln began forming his thoughts just after the Battle of Gettysburg.

PEGGY NOONAN

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The air is full of the Battle of Gettysburg, whose 150th anniversary this week marked. Those who love history are thinking about Little Round Top and Devil’s Den, Culp’s Hill and the Peach Orchard, and all the valor and mistakes of men at war. The mystery of them, too. How did Joshua Chamberlain, a bookish young professor of rhetoric from Maine, turn into a steely-eyed warrior of the most extraordinary grit and guts at the exact moment those qualities were most needed? He was a living hinge of history. Why did Robert E. Lee, that military master who always knew when not to push it too far, push it too far and order Pickett to charge that open field? Read more of this post

Fourth of July a Day of Bloody Protest in U.S. History

Fourth of July a Day of Bloody Protest in U.S. History

On July 4, 1934, the U.S. was in the fourth year of an economic crisis. On the West Coast, longshoremen had taken advantage of their newly acquired unionization rights and were on strike. In San Francisco, there was an uneasy calm on the waterfront after a vicious battle between police and strikers the day before.

The peace lasted only for a few hours. San Francisco’s police were planning another attempt to open the port. On the morning of July 5, they fired tear gas and charged the picket lines. The struggle lasted for hours. “It was a Gettysburg in the miniature,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. By evening, two strikers were dead and the National Guard had set up machine-gun nests to guard the port. Read more of this post

The Economics of Mad Geniuses: Is it possible that mental illness could, in some cases, be good for worker productivity?

JULY 3, 2013, 12:56 PM

The Economics of Mad Geniuses

By CATHERINE RAMPELL

In a magazine column this week, I talked about how expanding access to mental health care could be a cost-effective way to help the economy, given the economic costs of untreated or inadequately treated illness (like worker absenteeism and subsidized housing). Now to play devil’s advocate: Is it possible that untreated mental illness is not entirely bad for the economy, that mental illness could in some cases improve worker productivity? After all, history is littered with examples of “mad geniuses” whose creativity and innovativeness have sometimes been attributed to alleged mental illness (e.g., Thomas EdisonErnest HemingwayVincent Van GoghJohn Nash). There are likewise entrepreneurs of our own time who have been publicly characterized as having some sort of mental or at least neurological disorder. Former executives of JetBlue and Kinkos, for example, famously credited their A.D.H.D. with helping them think more creatively. Stories about 48-hour-straight coding sessions in Silicon Valley can sound a bit like manic behavior, too. Read more of this post

Clash! 8 Cultural Conflicts That Make Us Who We Are; Novel thinking about conflict and co-operation

uly 3, 2013 5:15 pm

Novel thinking about conflict and co-operation

Review by Trisha Andres

Clash! 8 Cultural Conflicts That Make Us Who We Are

By Hazel Markus and Alana Conner (Hudson Street Press, $25.95)

Clash

Should Mark Zuckerberg lose the trademark hooded sweatshirt when he goes to meet investors in Wall Street? According to the authors of Clash! – a manual for navigating cultural divisions in the modern world – the answer is a resounding yes. They write: “In Silicon Valley, his attire isn’t a problem; Steve Jobs broke the CEO dress code a generation before when he adopted a black turtleneck and jeans as his power suit. But on button-down Wall Street Zuck’s hoodie causes an uproar. The Northeast establishment sees the young entrepreneur’s refusal to don at least a jacket when he is in New York as a sign of disrespect.” The book splits people ac­cording to two modes of operating: independent and interdependent – with the former better at adapting to and mimicking those across various cultural divides. “Independent selves view themselves as individual, unique, influencing others and their environments, free from constraints and equal,” the writers explain. Read more of this post

Inside the Brains of Winners

July 3, 2013, 12:13 PM

Inside the Brains of Winners

By Jeff Brown

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Everyone knows a name dropper when they hear one. Buzz names like Gates, Jiwei, Jobs, Nooyi, Zuckerberg and Winfrey can give dramatic pause to a conversation and pique collegial interest. But their mere mention can also throw a name dropper under the credibility bus quicker than they can say “My cousin was college roommates with J.K. Rowling’s agent’s sister.” Read more of this post

Out-of-the-box thinking takes Goodpack places; “Once, I visited a rubber factory when a lorry hit something… The splinters were stuck to the rubber… It took an enormous amount of time to remove the splinters and the contamination to the rubber. “So I thought we should look at something that is easy to pack, environmentally friendly, easy to stack and cheaper than the wood we were buying.”

Out-of-the-box thinking takes Goodpack places

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Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013

Rachael Boon, The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Unlike most other Singapore companies, it all started for Goodpack founder and chairman David Lam with the need to solve a packaging problem which had been plaguing buyers of natural rubber. For years, they had bemoaned the damage caused to raw rubber during the shipping process in one of Singapore’s oldest industries. Wooden crates used to package natural rubber bales would be tossed around in ships, causing wooden splinters, sawdust and other debris to contaminate the raw material. This foreign matter then clogged up machines used to process the rubber. After latex is tapped from trees, it is coagulated and refined as rubber for use in tyres and other rubber products. Mr Lam, now 60, became aware of the packaging problem in the late-1980s when he was involved in trading natural rubber. Spotting a potentially vast market opening, he turned his mind to how best to replace the wooden crates with better packaging. Read more of this post

Bubbly, commonly known as the “Twitter for voice,” Hits 30 Million Users

Social Voice App Bubbly Hits 30 Million Users

July 4, 2013

by Willis Wee

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Singapore-headquartered Bubbly, commonly known as the “Twitter for voice,” has hit 30 million users. In addition to the 30 million users milestone, the company has rebranded itself as Bubbly (it was formerly called Bubble Motion) to give a more unified branding, look, and feel. Aptly, the latest version of Bubbly (v3.0) also launched today with a new design. Read more of this post

China, Australia and a hard landing

China, Australia and a hard landing

Neil Hume | Jul 04 03:53 | Comment | Share

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Kevin Rudd 2.0 has been quick to highlight the dangers posed by slowing Chinese growth since he was returned as Australia’s prime minister. For example: When I look at the challenges of rest of this year, and certainly for the upcoming three-year term, the huge outstanding economic challenge for us is the end of the China resources boom. This will have a dramatic effect on our terms of trade, a dramatic effect on living standards in the country, a dramatic effect also potentially on unemployment unless we have an effective counter-strategy. And… There are a lot of bad things happening out there. The global economy is still experiencing the slowest of recoveries. The China resources boom is over. China itself, domestically shows signs of recovery and when China represents such a large slice of our own economy, our jobs and our own opportunities for raising our living standards. But just how dangerous is a Chinese slowdown? Read more of this post

Scientists Fabricate Rudimentary Human Livers

July 3, 2013

Scientists Fabricate Rudimentary Human Livers

By GINA KOLATA

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Researchers from Japan used human stem cells to create “liver buds,” rudimentary livers that, when transplanted into mice, grew and functioned

Researchers in Japan have used human stem cells to create tiny human livers like those that arise early in fetal life. When the scientists transplanted the rudimentary livers into mice, the little organs grew, made human liver proteins, and metabolized drugs as human livers do. Read more of this post

Stem-cell therapies: Prometheus unbound; Researchers have yet to realise the old dream of regenerating organs. But they are getting closer

Stem-cell therapies: Prometheus unbound; Researchers have yet to realise the old dream of regenerating organs. But they are getting closer

Jul 6th 2013 |From the print edition

PROMETHEUS, a Titan bound to a rock by Zeus, endured the daily torture of an eagle feasting on his liver, only to have the organ regrow each night. Compared with this spectacle, a video on the website of Nature this week seems decidedly dull. It shows a collection of pink dots consolidating into a darker central glob.

But something titanic is indeed happening. The pink dots are stem cells, and the video shows the development of a liver bud, something which can go on to look and act like a liver. Takanori Takebe and Hideki Taniguchi of Yokohama City University, in Japan, who made the video, have created working human-liver tissue. Read more of this post

Novo’s Scale Advantages and Drug Lineup Broaden Its Wide Moat

Novo’s Scale Advantages and Drug Lineup Broaden Its Wide Moat

By Lauren Migliore, CFA | 07-03-13 | 06:00 AM | Email Article

 Novo Nordisk (NVO) has been consistently at the forefront of diabetes care, and we expect favorable industry dynamics and the firm’s formidable research and development and diabetes-focused commercialization infrastructure to continue to drive strong returns on shareholder capital.

We expect growth to come from increased market penetration in diabetes care and stable growth in biopharmaceuticals. Once-daily Victoza continues to outperform once-weekly Bydureon in the GLP-1 market thanks to the competing drug’s inability to prove noninferiority in trials, and we expect Victoza to break the $2 billion mark in annual sales this year. Novo’s next-generation products, Tresiba and Ryzodeg, will help the company defend its leading insulin franchise, though we expect that a complete response letter will delay U.S. launch by two to three years. This regulatory setback, along with recent safety concerns for the incretin class–of which Victoza is a member–has caused shares to underperform, and Novo is now trading at one of the steepest discounts to fair value (over 20%) in the large-cap biotech space (see the following table). However, we think these issues have little long-term impact on the company’s value, and instead present investors with the rare opportunity to own this high-quality name at an attractive price.

Comparables Within the Biotechnology Industry
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Source: Morningstar Read more of this post

China hands Asian memory makers massive bargaining chip

China hands Asian memory makers massive bargaining chip

5:03pm EDT

By Miyoung Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – Asian chipmakers are set to cash in on a major realignment in the volatile industry which is tilting the power balance their way at the expense of gadget makers such as Apple Inc, after years of cautious investment kept supply in check. Manufacturers including Toshiba Corp and SK Hynix are poised to reap the rewards of soaring demand for cut-price tablets and smartphones in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, and the emergence of Chinese mobile device makers such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. Read more of this post

Rise in mortgage rates cuts into home buyer demand

Rise in mortgage rates cuts into home buyer demand

Wed, Jul 3 2013

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Expectations the Federal Reserve will slow its economic stimulus program by the end of the year pushed mortgage rates higher last week, sapping demand from potential home buyers, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

Rates measured by the Mortgage Bankers Association jumped to the highest level since July 2011, which also cut into refinance activity. The share of refinance applications fell to the lowest level in more than two years. Read more of this post

Rakuten launches fashion-sharing website in Taiwan

Rakuten launches fashion-sharing website in Taiwan

CNA

2013-07-04

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten launched a social networking site for sharing fashion information in Taiwan Wednesday to grab a bigger share of the country’s growing online shopping market. Toru Shimada, CEO and chairman of Rakuten Asia, said his company is hoping to attract at least 1 million members in the coming year to the new site called “OSHa’Re,” which means fashion in Japanese. “Taiwan is Rakuten’s global market benchmark for new innovative technologies and services,” Shimada said at a press briefing on the new service, which has visual search technology that allows users to match photos of items they want with goods offered by Rakuten’s online shopping mall. “We are confident that OSHa’Re will become the No. 1 fashion website in Taiwan,” he said. Taiwan became in 2008 the first overseas market in which Rakuten established a presence, and the Japanese online retailer has since expanded its operations to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. In the past two years, Rakuten has acquired or bought stakes in companies in the United States, France, Brazil, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom. The global e-commerce market has grown by an average of 19% per year since 2010 and is expected to reach US$1 trillion in turnover this year, according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, the country’s main trade promotion body. In Taiwan alone, e-commerce turnover is expected to exceed NT$1 trillion (US$33.3 billion) in 2015, the council estimated.

 

Abalone price plummets in China

Abalone price plummets in China

Staff Reporter

2013-07-04

The Chinese government’s anti-corruption and frugality policy has had a significant effect on prices of luxury food products but the price of abalone and sea cucumbers have plummeted by 50%, reports the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China. “The food doesn’t sell well in big hotels but it is widely available, so how can it command a high price?” said a man who bought 20 abalones, a type of edible sea snails, at only 60 yuan (US$10) in a traditional market in Shanghai. In addition to abalones and sea cucumbers, other luxury items including Chinese liquor and tea leaves have seen their prices drop between 40-60% since May. An expert in aquaculture industry said that there may be two reasons to explain the drop of abalone prices, one being the government-led frugality campaign announced in December aimed at curbing consumption that uses public funds, among other purposes. While the excessive number of people raising abalones and other luxury seafood can also be seen as a cause for the oversupply this year.

 

Why Asian Internet Companies Struggle to Become Global

JULY 3, 2013, 11:12 AM

Why Asian Internet Companies Struggle to Become Global

By ERIC PFANNER

Asia is home to nearly half of the 2 billion Internet users in the world. It makes most of the hardware — laptops, smartphones, tablets and other gadgets — that is used to gain access to the Internet. In countries like South Korea and Japan, it has some of the fastest wired and wireless networks for carrying Internet traffic. Yet in one aspect of the high-technology economy, Asia still struggles. It has yet to create an Internet company with the global scale of a Google, Facebook or Amazon. A report published Wednesday by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research outfit affiliated with the Economist magazine, examines some of the possible reasons for this. Read more of this post

Hong Kong Rents Push Out Mom and Pop Stores

July 3, 2013

Hong Kong Rents Push Out Mom and Pop Stores

By BETTINA WASSENER and MARY HUI

HONG KONG — Nam Kee Noodles is a typical Hong Kong restaurant: functional, popular and busy. A dozen plastic-topped tables offer room for about 40 patrons. Customers line up outside at lunchtime, waiting to consume spicy noodle soup, dumplings and iced soy milk amid the clatter of plastic bowls and chopsticks. In April, however, the little restaurant, in the heart of Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts, nearly had to shut down after the landlord tripled the already-expensive rent. “We were paying around 200,000 dollars a month,” said Au Kei-hong, the shop’s manager, referring to an amount in Hong Kong dollars equivalent to about $25,800. “But the landlord then increased it to 600,000. It was too expensive. We cannot afford that.” Read more of this post

Software as a Monthly Rental; Photoshop is now the biggest-name software that you can’t actually buy, as the new version costs $30 a month, or $240 a year

July 3, 2013

Software as a Monthly Rental

By DAVID POGUE

There’s a new reason for Photoshop to be famous.

Yes, it’s still the program that just about every photographer and designer on earth uses to retouch or even reimagine photos. It’s still the only program whose name is a verb. But now, Photoshop is also the biggest-name software that you can’t actually buy. You can only rent it, for a month or a year at a time. If you ever stop paying, you keep your files but lose the ability to edit them. You have to pay $30 a month, or $240 a year, for the privilege of using the latest Photoshop version, called Photoshop CC. Or, if you want to use the full Adobe suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and so on), you’ll pay $600 a year. The price list is stunningly complex. The fees may be higher or lower depending on how many programs you rent, whether you already own an existing version and which one, whether you commit to a full year or prefer to rent one month at a time. There are also discounted first-year teaser rates, student/teacher rates and a 30-day free trial. But you get the point: the dawn of Software as a Subscription is now upon us. Read more of this post

Tencent Will Extend Payment System to Wireless Platforms

Tencent Will Extend Payment System to Wireless Platforms

Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700), China’s largest Internet company, will introduce a payment system to wireless platforms as it tries to commercialize apps including its WeChat instant messaging service to drive profit growth.

The company is seeking to tap customers who access its services on smartphones and tablet computers, Tencent President Martin Lau said at a conference in Beijing today. WeChat, with more than 300 million users, has over 70 million registered accounts outside mainland China, he said. Read more of this post

Investors are bailing out of China’s markets as fears grow over the slowing economy and Beijing discourages ideas that it might try to juice it back up

July 3, 2013, 11:52 a.m. ET

Investors Pull Back From China Assets

DANIEL INMAN

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Investors are bailing out of China’s markets as fears grow over the slowing economy and Beijing discourages ideas that it might try to juice it back up. Global fund managers have yanked money out of Chinese stocks for sixteen of the last 18 weeks, including a net $834 million during a five-day period ending June 5. That was the largest outflow since January 2008, when the financial crisis was getting underway, according to data provider EPFR. The gloomy mood is also spilling over into the currency market. Investors are raising their bets the yuan will fall, clashing with efforts by the central bank to keep it strong. Read more of this post

It used to be that American companies were busy expanding in Asia. These days, it is the other way around

Jul 3, 2013

Asian Acquirers Change Focus

By Cynthia Koons

It used to be that American companies were busy expanding in Asia. These days, it is the other way around.

In the space of a few weeks, Chinese meat producer Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. struck a $4.7 billion agreement to buy Smithfield Foods Inc. and Apollo Tyres Ltd. made a $2.5 billion offer to purchase Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Those deals, one at the end of May and the other in mid-June, are the biggest Chinese and Indian acquisitions of U.S. companies on record. Bankers say the moves show that Asian buyers not only increasingly believe they can manage foreign companies, they are also confident about the underlying U.S. economy. Read more of this post

Major Chinese shipbuilder Rongsheng Bows to Demand Slump and has laid off about 40% of its workforce in recent months

July 3, 2013, 12:12 p.m. ET

Chinese Shipbuilder Bows to Demand Slump

COLUM MURPHY And DINNY MCMAHON

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BEIJING—A major Chinese shipbuilder has laid off about 40% of its workforce in recent months, in a sign that China Inc. CHA 0.00% is under increasing strain from the slowdown in the world’s No. 2 economy.

Lei Dong, secretary to the president ofChina Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group Holdings Ltd., 1101.HK -10.17%said the company has let go of about 8,000 people, of whom more than half were subcontracted workers and the remainder full-time Rongsheng employees. He said there are currently about 12,000 employees at the shipbuilder, which is based in Rugao, Jiangsu province, north of Shanghai. Read more of this post

The Ambivalent Would-Be Hegemon: China is far too angry, lonely, mercantilist and domestically insecure to be considered a true global power

July 3, 2013, 12:55 p.m. ET

The Ambivalent Would-Be Hegemon

China is far too angry, lonely, mercantilist and domestically insecure to be considered a true global power.

DAVID ZWEIG

To what extent has China gone global in its diplomacy, support for global governance, trade and investment, soft power and military reach? David Shambaugh, a professor of political science at George Washington University and one of America’s leading China watchers, attempts to answer this question by drawing on a multitude of interviews with key players in China and around the world, as well as an extensive research effort. The result is a first-rate book that the nonacademic world will savor.

Mr. Shambaugh opens with a valuable synopsis of China’s internal debate about its global identity. Chinese academics remain uncertain about their state’s “international personae,” resulting in a conflicted identity. This scholarly elite is composed largely of a “left wing” with a strong nativist streak and a realist bent—meaning they believe security comes from across-the-board self-strengthening. Read more of this post

Indonesian Outflows Spur Pressure for Further Policy Tightening; “There was a time window in which the government could ride on the positive momentum and push through more concrete measures, but it’s now gone,”

Indonesian Outflows Spur Pressure for Further Policy Tightening

Indonesia’s policy makers delivered the country’s first benchmark interest-rate increase since 2011 and first fuel-price boost in five years in June. Capital outflows since then have spurred pressure for further moves.

The rupiah remains among the worst performers in Asia in the past year, falling about 0.8 percent after Indonesia on June 13 became the region’s first major economy to raise rates this year. Global funds sold 2.5 trillion rupiah ($250 million) of local-currency government bond holdings in the week after the June 22 fuel adjustment, aimed at containing a current-account deficit that has hurt the currency. Read more of this post

High-flying luxury: battle for Asia’s jet-set is hotting up

High-flying luxury: battle for Asia’s jet-set is hotting up

5:23pm EDT

By Anshuman Daga

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – With limousine pick-ups and on-board chefs, Asia’s premium airlines are investing hundreds of millions of dollars on luxury services in a bet on a rebound in business from the wealthy, even as low-cost carriers fly high with the booming middle class.

Although business and first-class traffic has fallen significantly in the last few years as companies cut costs, carriers such as Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA), Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Qantas Airways Ltd are estimated to still earn about 35 to 40 percent of passenger revenue from the high-margin segment. Read more of this post

China’s Visit-the-Parents Law Also Affects City Buildings

China’s Visit-the-Parents Law Also Affects City Buildings

China will accelerate development of standards for functions and designs that accommodate the elderly in buildings and public facilities to comply with the same new law under which people can be forced to visit their parents.

China’s revised and broadened Law for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly includes a chapter aimed at ensuring comfortable living environments, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. Read more of this post

China Said to Suspend Release of Steel Industry PMI Data

China Said to Suspend Release of Steel Industry PMI Data

China suspended the release of a set of data on the country’s steel industry after the National Bureau of Statistics decided to change how the figures are compiled, a person involved in producing the numbers said.

The June Purchasing Managers’ Index for the steel industry won’t be released, said the person, who asked not to be identified as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. It isn’t yet clear what changes will be made and in what time frame, or if the data for July would be released next month, the person said. Read more of this post

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