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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Oil Sector Climbs as -2-

06/22/2021 | 06:30am EDT

TEHRAN-Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday said the Islamic Republic wouldn't stop supporting Shiite militia groups fighting across the Middle East or rein in its missile program, rebuffing a key goal of the Biden administration as it negotiates a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.

President Biden has said he wants any fresh agreement on Iran's nuclear activities to lead to broader discussions on how to reduce its military footprint in the Middle East. But in his first press conference in Tehran after winning Friday's election, Mr. Raisi ruled out such an approach.

Jordan's Royal Rift Spills Into Court as Men Face Sedition Charges

A public rift between Jordan's King Abdullah II and his younger half-brother entered a new stage, as two of the prince's alleged co-conspirators appeared in court for the first time to face charges of sedition over their involvement in a purported plot to replace the monarch.

In a remarkable scene Monday at the state security court in Amman that was closed to the public, former royal court chief Bassem Awadallah and minor royal Sharif Hassan bin Zaid appeared handcuffed and wearing blue prison uniforms, according to their lawyers. Authorities say both were working on behalf of Prince Hamzah bin Hussein.

U.S. Sanctions Senior Belarus Officials Allegedly Tied to Political Crackdown

WASHINGTON-The U.S. and its trans-Atlantic allies on Monday imposed financial sanctions against senior Belarus officials and police units the Biden administration said are responsible for escalating political repression, including the forced diversion of a commercial airline carrying dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his subsequent arrest in May.

The sanctions mark a significant expansion of pressure by the Biden administration as it coordinates joint action with the European Union and other Western governments against the political crackdown by the former Soviet state's leader, Alexander Lukashenko.


Rising Inflation Looks Less Severe Using Pre-Pandemic Comparisons

As consumers deal with starkly higher prices than a year ago, the Federal Reserve has maintained its stance that high inflation, the increase in the price consumers pay for goods and services, isn't expected to last very long.

The Fed tweaked its outlook and now expects to raise interest rates by late 2023-sooner than previously anticipated-noting progress in economic activity and employment.

Whatever Their CEOs Say, Banks Are Wary About the Office

Some bank chiefs, like JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, talk as if the office will soon look more or less as it did before. Their real estate lending teams seem less sure.

Banks on both sides of the Atlantic are becoming more selective about which offices they will lend against. Pockets of the market have been resilient during the pandemic: The rate banks charge for mortgages on the best central London offices was 1.65% in the first quarter of 2021, more or less where it was before the crisis, data from real-estate company CBRE shows. But U.K. lending margins for older, less central offices are close to historic highs, based on the Cass Business School's commercial real estate lending report.

Economy Is Showing Sustained Progress, Powell Says

WASHINGTON-Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Monday that job growth should pick up in coming months and temporary inflation pressures should ease as the economy continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

"The economy has shown sustained improvement," Mr. Powell said in testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday on Capitol Hill, noting progress on vaccinations and vast stimulus efforts by Congress and the Fed.

Wage Gains at Factories Fall Behind Growth in Fast-Food

Pay for factory jobs has grown so slowly in the U.S. that manufacturers are having trouble competing with fast-food restaurants.

Take Western Michigan, home to many office-furniture and car-parts factories as well as a growing tourism industry. Restaurants and hotels along Lake Michigan have been hiring rapidly as people, kept fairly stationary during the pandemic, start traveling again. The shift is making it harder for factories to staff their production lines, and the added demand has increased both openings and the rate at which workers leave their jobs.

Fed's Williams Not Ready to Pare Aid, but Other Officials Talk Tapering

Federal Reserve Bank of New York leader John Williams said he isn't ready for the U.S. central bank to dial back the support it is giving the economy amid uncertainty about the recovery from the pandemic.

"It's clear that the economy is improving at a rapid rate, and the medium-term outlook is very good," Mr. Williams said in a virtual appearance Monday. "But the data and conditions have not progressed enough for the [Federal Open Market Committee] to shift its monetary policy stance of strong support for the economic recovery," he said.

Bitcoin Price Extends Drop After China Intensifies Crypto Crackdown

The price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies slid Monday after China's central bank ordered the country's largest banks and payment processors to take a more active role in curbing cryptocurrency trading and related activities.

The People's Bank of China on Monday said it summoned representatives of multiple institutions-including state-owned commercial banks and Ant Group Co.'s Alipay-and told them to "strictly implement" recent notices and guidelines from authorities on curbing risks tied to bitcoin and cryptocurrency fundraising activities. It was the latest sign that Beijing is intensifying its crackdown on unregulated virtual currencies.

SEC Wants More Climate Disclosures. Businesses Are Preparing for a Fight.

WASHINGTON-The Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to require public companies to disclose more information about how they respond to threats linked to climate change-and businesses are gearing up for a fight.

The SEC's new chairman, Biden administration appointee Gary Gensler, has said climate-related disclosure is a top priority, and President Biden met Monday with Mr. Gensler, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and other top financial regulators to discuss the issue. The SEC has already sought industry input, much of which arrived last week, for a rule proposal that could be issued by October.

The Copper Price Mountain Crumbles

Green energy plus inflation, infrastructure and easy money must equal a copper-price rally-at least that seems to have been the thinking of commodity investors, who had helped copper prices nearly double since late 2019.

Over the past week, that optimism has waned. The Federal Reserve, eyeing stubborn supply-chain and labor-market bottlenecks, has begun sending less dovish signals. And China, eyeing skyrocketing commodity costs, has elected to release part of its state copper reserves into the market. That one-two punch has taken copper prices off about 8% since mid-June.

Great Barrier Reef Is in Danger, U.N. Agency Says

SYDNEY-The United Nations body that oversees World Heritage sites has recommended that Australia's Great Barrier Reef be classified as in danger, saying the country's center-right government hasn't done enough to protect the reef from the effects of climate change.

The warning echoes the concerns of environmental groups that say the reef is deteriorating after experiencing three mass coral-bleaching events in roughly the past five years, the frequency of which scientists attribute to climate change. Bleaching, which occurs when water temperatures rise, can kill the corals and one study last year estimated the reef has lost more than half its corals since the 1990s.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

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This article is a text version of a Wall Street Journal newsletter published earlier today.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-22-21 0629ET

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