Stay informed with free updates
Simply sign up to the World myFT Digest — delivered directly to your inbox.
Joe Biden said the deadly explosion in a Gaza hospital appeared to have been caused by Palestinians, not the Israeli military, as outrage and mutual accusations fanned across the Middle East.
Appearing with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, the US president sided with accounts that blamed the blast on a misfired rocket by Palestinian militants, rather than an Israeli air strike.
“Based on what I have seen, it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden said. “But there’s a lot of people out there who are not sure. So we’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”
Biden’s trip to Israel to show solidarity with the Jewish state following Hamas’s attack on October 7 has been overshadowed by the explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, which the Palestinian authorities say killed 200 people.
After news of the blast broke, Jordan cancelled plans for a summit in Amman due to be attended by King Abdullah, Biden, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
Protests broke out in Ramallah and other parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and spread to several cities in the region. The blast also drew condemnation from Muslim countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which blamed Israel.
It has not been possible to independently verify the death toll or the cause of the explosion, one of the bloodiest events in the war so far. Read the latest on Biden’s visit to Israel.
Biden’s gambit: After the deadly hospital blast, the US president’s whirlwind Middle East trip to help stop the war from spreading could backfire.
Opinion: A human catastrophe will follow unless hostilities are suspended for the UN to provide help, write the organisation’s senior humanitarian officials.
Letter to the FT: Eight legal figures including a former president of the UK’s Supreme Court have raised “significant concern” over Israel’s conduct in Gaza. Read their full letter, which they said they wrote as Jews and as lawyers.
We’ve also launched a dedicated WhatsApp channel to bring you daily updates on the war. Sign up here.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:
Company results: Tesla, Netflix and Morgan Stanley publish their latest results today.
Economic data: US housing starts are forecast to have risen to an annualised rate of 1.38mn in September, from 1.28mn in August. The US Federal Reserve will release an anecdotal assessment of regional economic conditions gathered by each central bank branch known as the Beige Book.
Monetary policy: Federal Reserve governors Christopher Waller and Lisa Cook and New York Fed president John Williams will each be speaking at public events.
The first issue of our Central Banks newsletter by Chris Giles launched yesterday — read it here. Next Wednesday, he will be joined by other FT experts including Martin Sandbu and Colby Smith as they discuss rate-setters’ ability to forecast and control inflation. Sign up here for free.
Five more top stories
1. China’s gross domestic product grew 4.9 per cent year on year in the third quarter, beating market expectations as Beijing steps up support for the world’s second-biggest economy. The economy expanded 1.3 per cent on a quarterly basis, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said, regaining some momentum after growth of just 0.5 per cent in the April-June period. Here’s more on China’s latest growth figures.
Xi-Putin meeting: China’s president lauded record high trade with Russia and stressed his “deep friendship” with Vladimir Putin, as the leaders met in Beijing to reaffirm a partnership that has grown closer since the Ukraine war.
2. Jim Jordan was fighting for his political future last night, after 20 members of his own party voted against the Donald Trump loyalist in his bid to become Speaker of the House. The House went into recess immediately after Jordan lost the vote as plans for a second ballot were scrapped. Another vote has been scheduled for later today. Here’s the latest.
3. Goldman Sachs reported a 36 per cent drop in third-quarter profits, the bank’s eighth consecutive quarter of falling earnings, as it grappled with losses following its pullback from retail banking and writedowns on its real estate investments. However, Goldman eked out a year-on-year increase in investment banking revenues. Read the full story.
4. Starboard Value has built a stake in News Corp and is pushing for billionaire owner Rupert Murdoch to break up the company. The activist hedge fund run by Jeff Smith argued at a conference yesterday that News Corp’s stock market valuation “does not make sense” and called for a spin-off of its online property listings division. Here’s more on Starboard’s plan.
5. Short-term Treasury yields jumped to their highest level in 17 years yesterday after stronger than expected US retail sales data fanned investors’ fears that the Federal Reserve could lift borrowing costs further in its fight against inflation. It ended a period of respite for bonds over the past week as the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas spurred demand for safe assets such as Treasuries. Here’s more on the renewed sell-off.
The Big Read
Javier Milei, a 52-year-old libertarian economist with an outsize television personality and a minimal political career, has taken swaths of Argentina by storm. Despite an eccentric personality that has included turns as a tantric sex guru and cosplay enthusiast, polls make him the narrow favourite to win the presidency. What might the radical outsider do in office?
We’re also reading . . .
US foreign policy: Wars in Europe and the Middle East are slowing America’s vaunted pivot to Asia, writes Janan Ganesh.
Israel-Hamas war: Iran is positioning itself to benefit from the conflict, but there is a chance that Tehran has over-reached, writes the Brookings Institution’s Suzanne Maloney.
FTX trial: The New York fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried has not only shed light on the chaotic collapse of the crypto exchange but also on his fateful rivalry with Changpeng Zhao.
Chart of the day
“The world is on fire.” With the heat of 2023, these opening words in a G20 report released last week are more than figurative, writes Martin Wolf. We are fast running out of time to solve today’s big challenges — here’s how we might finance a faster shift to a better world.
Take a break from the news
Former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown made her mark as one of the most famous, and most feared, journalists of the 1980s and 1990s. In an interview with the FT, Brown reflects on magazines, sexism (she was once called “Stalin in high heels”) and why investigative journalism must be supported. Explore the rest of our Women in Business series here.
Additional contributions from Tee Zhuo and Benjamin Wilhelm