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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : European Stocks Rise -2-

09/23/2021 | 06:37am EDT

Royal Mail PLC said Thursday that its adjusted operating profit for the first half ending Sept. 30 is expected to be between 395 million and 400 million pounds ($537.9 million-$544.7 million).

The company said that both the adjusted operating profit and margin of its Royal Mail business are expected to be higher in the second half compared to the first half. As for the GLS business, which provides delivery services in Europe and North America, the group maintained its full-year outlook of low-single-digit percentage revenue growth, and 8% operating margin.

Europe Is Pumping Less Gas as Demand Rebounds, Leaving a Gap Russia Is Filling

A giant Dutch natural-gas field once pumped enough fuel to cover the current needs of Germany, Europe's largest economy. Next year the field is shutting down over environmental concerns.

Natural-gas supply shortfalls have led to record prices for the fuel and electricity, stoking fears of a shortage and spotlighting European efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The conflict is one economies world-wide face as they try to adopt cleaner energy sources.

FDA Clears Covid-19 Booster Shots From Pfizer for High-Risk People

U.S. health authorities cleared Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for people 65 and older and certain other adults at high risk of severe illness, a bid to help curb the pandemic and the dangerous Delta variant.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said it permitted a third dose of the shot from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for people who got two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech messenger RNA vaccine and are 65 years and older or are at risk of severe disease and death, including because of their jobs or where they live.

London Stock Exchange to Close Unprofitable Interest-Rate Derivatives Venture

London Stock Exchange Group PLC is shutting its venture in interest-rate derivatives, CurveGlobal Ltd., after it failed to gain traction with traders over the past five years.

CurveGlobal will close in January, and some of its futures markets with zero activity are being suspended immediately, LSEG said in a notice to traders posted on its website Tuesday. A spokesperson for the U.K.-based exchange operator confirmed the move Wednesday.

Angela Merkel's International Legacy: Cooler Trans-Atlantic Relations

BERLIN-After moving into the White House in January, President Biden decided his first call to a foreign leader would go to Angela Merkel, signaling a return to trans-Atlantic normality after the turbulence of the Trump era, according to aides.

The German chancellor had other plans. She declined the offer of a call on that Friday afternoon because she would be at her country cottage near Berlin, where she spends some weekends tending to her vegetable garden and walking by the lake, people familiar with the discussion said.

Biden, Macron Vow to Work to Ease Diplomatic Spat

President Biden and France's President Emmanuel Macron, speaking for the first time since a diplomatic spat arose over a deal by the U.S. and United Kingdom to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, vowed to seek ways to patch up an alliance that is part of American efforts to counter China's influence in the Pacific.

In a joint statement from the U.S. and France, both sides acknowledged the situation would have benefited from better communication. Mr. Biden also reaffirmed a commitment to discuss matters of strategic interest to France and European partners, it said. Mr. Macron said his ambassador, Philippe Etienne, would return to Washington next week after having been recalled for consultations, the joint statement said.

U.N. Climate Summit Attendees Push U.K. for Vaccines

Some 25,000 delegates from nearly every nation on Earth-including government officials, activists and journalists-will descend on Glasgow, Scotland, in November for a United Nations global climate summit.

The U.K. government is trying to make sure they have all had a chance to get vaccinated.

GLOBAL NEWS

U.S. Jobless Claims Are Expected to Hover Near Pandemic Low

Filings for unemployment benefits likely resumed a summer decline last week, as demand for workers keeps a lid on layoffs and the economic recovery shows signs it is holding up during the latest Covid-19 surge.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate that weekly unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, declined to 320,000 in the week ended Sept. 18 from 332,000 the prior week. That would bring the four-week moving average for initial claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, to the lowest level since the Covid-19 crisis began last year.

Fed Officials See 'Transitory' Inflation Lasting Quite a While

All year the Federal Reserve's message on inflation has been consistent: This year's surge is transitory, and inflation will soon return close to the central bank's 2% target.

Yet look more closely, and it is clear officials are turning less sanguine-and that explains growing eagerness to start raising interest rates.

Taiwan Central Bank Leaves Rates Steady Amid Moderate Inflation, Uncertain Economic Recovery

Taiwan's central bank left its benchmark rate unchanged Thursday, saying moderate inflation and an uncertain economic recovery called for a continuation of its loose monetary policy.

The move came amid fears of slower economic growth in the second half of the year, after the island tightened pandemic restrictions in May, when local infections rose sharply.

New Platform Backed by Fidelity, Goldman Seeks to Bring IPO Market Into Digital World

A new technology platform backed by the biggest U.S. banks and money managers is aiming to bring the IPO market into the 21st century.

The syndicate desk-a longtime fixture at banks across Wall Street where IPOs and other large stock sales are priced and allocated to investors-has long clung to traditional ways of doing business like phone orders and scribbled pieces of paper, even as other businesses go digital.

Fed Tees Up Taper and Signals Rate Rises Possible Next Year

The Federal Reserve signaled it was ready to start reversing its pandemic stimulus programs in November and could raise interest rates next year amid risks of a lengthier-than-anticipated jump in inflation.

The Fed's rate-setting committee, at the end of a two-day gathering, indicated in its postmeeting statement Wednesday that it could start to reduce, or taper, its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases as soon as its next scheduled meeting, Nov. 2-3.

Iron-Ore Prices Buckle as Evergrande Adds to China Concerns

SYDNEY-The crisis engulfing property developer China Evergrande Group is causing iron-ore prices to buckle, as investors worry that pressure on China's huge property market will translate into lower appetite for steel.

Evergrande's difficulties are the most visible sign of the worsening climate for Chinese real-estate companies, and economic data point to a broader malaise in the sector, with home sales by value contracting nearly 20% year-over-year in August, and construction starts down this year.

Investors Bet Environmental Fears Will Crunch Commodity Supply, Lifting Prices

Investors are ramping up wagers that a global push to lower carbon emissions will hamper commodity production, pushing up prices for everything from natural gas to aluminum.

With producers such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. under pressure from investors to minimize environmental damage, many are limiting spending on new output. The caution comes after years of declining investments in production that were driven by lackluster commodity prices and a focus on returning money to shareholders, analysts say.

Supply-Chain Crunch, Chip Shortage Focus of White House Meeting

WASHINGTON-The Biden administration is seeking more information from companies struggling with the global shortage of semiconductors, an effort designed to increase transparency in supply chains and ease bottlenecks.

The request for information, which is voluntary for companies, will be made Thursday as the White House hosts a meeting of semiconductor producers and users. Administration officials said the objective is to get more information about supply and demand problems and identify ways the government can help.

FDA Clears Covid-19 Booster Shots From Pfizer for High-Risk People

U.S. health authorities cleared Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for people 65 and older and certain other adults at high risk of severe illness, a bid to help curb the pandemic and the dangerous Delta variant.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said it permitted a third dose of the shot from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for people who got two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech messenger RNA vaccine and are 65 years and older or are at risk of severe disease and death, including because of their jobs or where they live.

Biden Pushes Democrats to Find Consensus on Budget Package

WASHINGTON-President Biden pressed lawmakers to reach a consensus on his sweeping $3.5 trillion spending proposal during a series of meetings at the White House on Wednesday, aiming to settle sharp intraparty differences that threaten to derail his legislative agenda.

During his sit-down with moderate Democrats, lawmakers discussed reducing the size of the package, which would expand access to healthcare, offer universal prekindergarten and reduce carbon emissions, among other measures, to below $3 trillion, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Progressives, meanwhile, continued to threaten to block passage of a separate, roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill next week if it comes to the House floor before the larger package.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

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09-23-21 0636ET

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