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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : More Consumer Price -2-

07/14/2021 | 06:24am EDT

PARIS-The European Union is set to propose a sweeping program on Wednesday to transform the region's economy to fight climate change, slashing its reliance on fossil fuels and potentially jolting global trade with import levies that would hit high-emitting countries.

The package, drafted by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, ranks among the most ambitious plans yet by a major economic power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requiring companies and households to adopt cleaner technologies such as wind turbines, solar power and electric vehicles. It would limit pollution across the European economy, including electricity generation, automobiles, housing, shipping and agriculture.

Eurozone Industrial Production Fell in May Due to Supply Chain Disruptions

Eurozone industrial production declined in May as supply-chain bottlenecks hindered activity, Eurostat data released Wednesday showed.

Output from factories, mines and utilities across the single-currency area in May fell 1.0% over the previous month, the EU statistics agency said. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.1% drop. Eurostat revised down month-on-month industrial output growth for April to 0.6% from 0.8% in the first estimate.

UK Consumer Prices Rose at Faster Annual Pace in June

Annual inflation in the U.K. accelerated in June, further evidence that price pressures are building world-wide as the global economy edges out of the pandemic.

Consumer prices rose 2.5% on the year in June, the fastest rate of growth since summer 2018, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.

Hugo Boss Preliminary 2Q Sales Rose; Sees Swing to 2021 Operating Profit

Hugo Boss AG's revenue and earnings recovered in the second quarter, according to preliminary figures, leading the German premium-apparel company to guide for a swing to an operating profit for the full year.

Sales more than doubled on year at constant currency to 629 million euros ($740.7 million), slightly below the same period of 2019, Hugo Boss said late Tuesday.

Tele2 Lifts FY Guidance After Posting 2Q Net Profit Beat

Tele2 AB on Wednesday reported a forecast-beating 53% rise in second-quarter net profit and raised full-year guidance.

The Sweden-based telecom company posted a net profit for the quarter of 1.37 billion kronor($158.3 million) up from SEK895 million a year earlier, with earnings boosted by a SEK350 million provision release after a Swedish tax case.

Nordax Launches Final Bid of $2.24 Bln for Norwegian Finans Holding

Sweden's Nordax Bank AB said Wednesday that it has launched a best and final bid of 19.6 billion Norwegian kroner ($2.24 billion) for Norwegian Finans Holding ASA, the owner of the internet bank started by Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA founder Bjorn Kjos.

Nordax had a NOK17.8 billion bid rejected in March, raising it to NOK18.7 billion in May.

Barratt Developments FY21 Completions Rose, Expects Profit to Beat Market Views

Barratt Developments PLC said Wednesday that selling prices and completions in fiscal 2021 rose amid strong customer demand and underlying market strength, and it expects adjusted profit to beat market views.

The home builder said that for the year ended June 30, its average selling price rose to 289,000 pounds ($399,282) from GBP280,000 a year prior. The number of completions including joint ventures rose to 17,243 from 12,604 a year before, Barratt said.

How a Small Dutch IT Company Caught Up in the Kaseya Attack Stepped Up for Customers

While the U.S. geared up for Independence Day celebrations on the weekend of July 4, technology providers around the world raced to repair customers' computer systems after a cyberattack on Kaseya Ltd., believed to be the largest ransomware attack ever.

In the days after the July 2 attack on Miami-based Kaseya, employees of Dutch technology service provider VelzArt worked in shifts around the clock, driving around the Netherlands to pick up computers from the offices of nearly 100 clients and bring them to back to VelzArt for repairs, said VelzArt's director, Wesley Born.

Volkswagen Looks Beyond Car Ownership, Even as It Surges

Attempts to predict what the automotive industry will look like in 2030 only serve to highlight how uncertain its future really is.

On Tuesday, Volkswagen updated its long-term strategy under the tagline "new auto." Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess and his team laid out how they saw the vehicle business changing this decade and how the company would use its scale as the market leader in Europe and China to take advantage.

GLOBAL NEWS

Senate Democrats Agree to $3.5 Trillion Healthcare and Antipoverty Plan

WASHINGTON-Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee agreed to roughly $3.5 trillion in spending for their broad healthcare and antipoverty plan, determining the scope of the party's expected efforts on education, climate change, child care and a host of other issues while it has control of Congress and the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) announced the agreement Tuesday night after an hourslong meeting among White House officials and members of the committee, which is tasked with crafting the broad contours of the bill. The $3.5 trillion price falls short of a $6 trillion package previously sought by progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), the chairman of the Budget Committee who endorsed the deal Tuesday night.

China to Launch the World's Largest Emissions-Trading Program

HONG KONG-China will launch a national emissions-trading program on Friday, according to people familiar with the matter, creating the world's largest carbon market and doubling the share of global emissions covered under such programs.

The carbon market will help the country lower greenhouse-gas emissions and achieve its goal of reaching peak emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality, or net zero emissions, by 2060, officials said at a news conference Wednesday. China is the world's largest carbon emitter.

New Zealand Central Bank to Reduce Stimulus by Halting Bond Purchases

WELLINGTON, New Zealand-New Zealand's central bank said it would reduce stimulus for the economy as inflation pressures rise and growth rebounds from the pandemic.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said Wednesday that it will halt its purchases of New Zealand government bonds-which had helped to keep wholesale interest rates low-by July 23.

Chip Shortage Has Spawned a Surplus of Fraudsters and Fake Parts

TAIPEI-The global chip shortage has created a gold mine for bad actors.

Businesses in need of chips are taking supply-chain risks they wouldn't have considered before, only to find that what they buy doesn't work. Dubious sellers are buying ads on search engines to lure desperate buyers. Sales of X-ray machines that can detect fake parts have boomed.

Green-Tech Startups Are Getting Fresh Wave of Cash

A flood of investment into clean tech propelled onetime startups such as Tesla Inc. into the stratosphere. For most young companies in the sector, the past decade was a fight to raise the funds needed for takeoff.

That is changing amid a boom in green investing. The new wave of cash is helping startups get from laboratory to market.

U.S. Covid-19 Case Counts Have Doubled in Recent Weeks

New Covid-19 cases are on the rise in a number of states across the U.S., worrying health officials and epidemiologists as many Americans remain unvaccinated and the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads.

The U.S. is averaging more than 23,000 new cases a day, double the seven-day average of around 11,300 cases three weeks ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. On 17 of the past 18 days, the seven-day case average was higher than the 14-day average, also suggesting cases have been rising nationally.

Explosion Kills at Least Nine Chinese Nationals in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-A blast killed at least nine Chinese nationals traveling in a bus in northern Pakistan, along with at least four Pakistanis, a local official said Wednesday.

The cause of the blast couldn't immediately be determined, but Chinese building sites, symbols and citizens have been attacked by local insurgents in Pakistan. The incident represents the largest loss of Chinese lives in recent years in Pakistan, where China is carrying out a multibillion-dollar infrastructure building program.

Sydney Lockdown Extended by Two Weeks Amid Delta Outbreak

SYDNEY-Authorities said they would extend a lockdown in Sydney, Australia's most populous city, by two weeks to July 30 as the city battles an outbreak of the highly infectious coronavirus Delta variant.

Officials had previously warned that the lockdown, which was scheduled to end July 16, was likely to be extended as case numbers rose. On Wednesday, authorities said there were 97 new local coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours compared with 89 on Tuesday and 112 on Monday.

Iranian Intelligence Plotted to Kidnap U.S.-Based Activist, Prosecutors Say

Iranian intelligence agents plotted to kidnap a U.S.-based human-rights activist and critic of the Islamic Republic and forcibly return her to Iran, federal prosecutors said, marking an escalation of Iran's attempts to silence dissidents around the world.

The alleged scheme targeted Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American who has used her social-media profile, Western government contacts and cable news appearances to rally opinion against Tehran's treatment of women and the government policy of compulsory head scarves.

Write to paul.larkins@dowjones.com

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