Fed “approaching” lift-off, oil prices back at January levels and Audi takes on Tesla

The daily briefing “FirstFT” from the Financial Times.

Prepare for lift-off. That was the message Federal Reserve policy makers expressed according to the minutes of their latest meeting, even as they voiced concerns about lagging inflation and threats to the US economy posed by a stronger dollar and China’s recent currency moves.

The July minutes made no mention of any plans to raise rates at their next meeting in September. But they do indicate that the conditions for a rate rise are “approaching”, even as they point to a vigorous debate within the Fed over a number of key data points including inflation and the timing of an increase. (FT)

In the news

Oil prices back at January levels Brent dropped to $46.81 a barrel after an increase in US crude stocks pointed to a deepening glut. Inventories expanded by 2.6m barrels to 456.2m last week, upending analysts’ beliefs that stocks would decline. (FT)

Renminbi still not in IMF reserve Despite China’s efforts to persuade the fund to include the renminbi in its basket of reserve currencies, the executive board approved an extension of its current line-up until Sept 30, 2016. (FT)

Audi takes on Tesla The German marque is set to unveil an electric SUV to rival Tesla’s forthcoming Model X. Audi says the vehicle – which it hopes to have in production in 2018 – is capable of travelling more than 310 miles on battery power alone. (FT)

Scams and the city An explosion in the number of cases of investment fraud in the City of London has inundated authorities and sparked alarm over a possible hit to the reputation of the business hub. Suspected criminals are using exclusive addresses to target vulnerable people for scams from wine to oil wells. (FT)

Bundestag backs Greek deal The German parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of thelatest €86bn Greek rescue package, opening the way for the immediate release of emergency funds to help Athens pay its key debts, refinance its banks and support wider economic reform. (FT)

It’s a big day for

Hewlett-Packard, which will report quarterly results. The company will split in two later this year, with one division focusing on personal computers and printing and the other on software. (FT)

Food for thought

Elevator to heaven A Canadian tech company has secured a patent to develop a 20km “space elevator” that could launch both astronauts and tourists into orbit. The structure, more than 20 times the height of the world’s tallest skyscraper but only weighing as much as a super tanker, is expected to cost about $5bn to build. (CNBC)

Missing Nazi treasure train Two Polish men claim to have discovered an armoured Nazi train filled with gems and gold that went missing at the end of the second world war. Some reports suggest the locomotive – which had until now been consigned to folklore – could be carrying up to 300 tonnes of gold. (BBC)

Japan’s Golden Oldies The country has so many centenarians they are putting a strain on the budget … but not for the reason you may think. With so many citizens passing the 100 mark, the government has decided to end its practice of rewarding them with a traditional silver sake dish – worth about $65 – and is instead opting for a more frugal gift. (Quartz)

China: weakened foundations Even through the toughest times, China kept its currency pegged firmly to the dollar. So why did officials in Beijing decide last week to break the great taboo and devalue its currency when there was no apparent crisis? The answer: a creeping economic crunch and not enough tools to handle it. (FT)

Bizzarro world Mexican immigrants are rapists, US leaders are idiots, POWs are cowards and women are hormonal. So goes the world according to Donald Trump. And Republicans are eating it up. Despite all appearances that his candidacy was cooked up in a late-night chat show writers’ room, the billionaire reality TV star has confounded experts with a commanding lead over the crowded Republican field. (FT)

Sun-kissed carbon savings A city in southern India has announced its international airport will now run completely on solar power. The airfield in Cochin in the state of Kerala is powered by more than 45,000 panels laid across 45 acres – a setup expected to save nearly 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 25 years. (The Verge)

Video of the day

Creating museums of the future A few years ago, using smartphones in museums was frowned upon. Today institutions such as the Met in New York are encouraging them. The FT’s Ravi Mattu looks at how museums are embracing tech, including virtual reality, smartphones and selfies. (FT)

This article is published in collaboration with The Financial Times. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: FirstFT is the Financial Times’ editors curated free daily email of the top global stories from the FT and the best of the rest of the web.

Image: A detail from the front of the United States Federal Reserve Board building is shown in Washington October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron.

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