China stocks fall and renminbi weakens ahead of trade data release

What to watch in Asia today

Torch bearers light the flame during the opening ceremony of the Chengdu World University Games on July 28. About 10,000 athletes competed in the Chinese city © CNS/AFP via Getty Images

Events: The Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament, begins debate on a no-confidence motion moved by the opposition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to reply on Thursday. The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee begins a three-day meeting. The 31st World University Games, or Universiade, concludes in Chengdu. About 10,000 students from 150 countries competed in the event, originally set for summer of 2021 but postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indicators: China releases July trade data, while Japan announces June household spending and July bank lending figures. The Bank of Korea issues June balance of payments figures. Malaysia releases an industrial production index and Taiwan provides July consumer price index data. New Zealand issues residential property values for July.

Earnings: Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group releases quarterly earnings, as does Chinese electric-car maker Li Auto, Australian-founded building materials manufacturer James Hardie Industries and South Korea’s SK Telecom and entertainment group Hybe.

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Online homework helper Chegg shrugs off AI threat concerns

Wall Street’s worries that generative artificial intelligence systems such as ChatGPT pose a threat to the online education sector appeared to ease on Monday, after US provider Chegg reported stronger-than expected results for its latest quarter.

Earlier this year Chegg was seen as the first public company to be hit by the AI-powered chatbot after it said some subscribers were turning to the free OpenAI service for answers, affecting its revenue.

Chegg’s shares rebounded in after-hours trading on Monday by 25 per cent following stronger than expected quarterly results. It said a “conversational” service launched in May, also powered by generative AI, appeared to be catching on with students.

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Beyond Meat cuts positive cash flow goal and slashes full-year sales outlook

A Beyond Meat plant-based burger patty is shown at a TGI Friday’s restaurant in Moscow. The artificial meat maker cited weak demand for its products multiple times © Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Beyond Meat abandoned its hopes of becoming cash flow positive this year and cut its sales outlook, sending its shares down more than 8 per cent in extended trading.

The artificial meat maker cited weak demand for its products multiple times in its latest earnings report, where it missed Wall Street’s expectations for revenues, but recorded a narrower loss than forecast.

The company downgraded its full-year revenue outlook to a range of $360mn and $380mn, down from $375mn to $415mn.

Beyond Meat said it no longer expected to be cash flow positive in the second half of 2023, “in light of greater than expected consumer and category headwinds and their anticipated impact on net revenues”.

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Ukraine says Russian strike on Pokrovsk city centre kills 5 people

Russian forces launched a rocket attack on the town centre of Pokrovsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, killing five people and wounding at least 31, Ukrainian officials said.

The Druzhba hotel, frequented almost entirely by journalists and military personnel, suffered a direct hit. It is not clear how many guests were staying at the hotel.

Ukraine’s interior ministry said that among the injured were 19 police officers and five rescue workers who were caught in a second barrage when they arrived at the scene. The deputy head of the service for the Donetsk region was among those killed, they said.

Journalists chose to stay at the hotel because it was deemed to be a relatively safe distance from the frontline.

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KKR agrees $1.6bn deal for book publisher Simon & Schuster

The Simon & Schuster offices in New York. Private equity firm KKR will pay less for the book publishing company than rival Penguin Random House offered in 2020 © Sarah Yenesel/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Private equity firm KKR has agreed to buy US book publisher Simon & Schuster from Paramount Global for $1.62bn.

The agreement relieves Paramount of a top-five US book publisher as it seeks to focus on its video streaming business. Shares of the media group rose 4 per cent in after-market trading.

The new price tag is less than the $2.2bn that rival publisher Penguin Random House offered for Simon & Schuster in 2020. A US judge blocked the proposed deal on antitrust grounds, saying the merger would harm competition for publishing rights on major titles and cut into author pay.

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