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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Extend Gains, -2-

08/04/2021 | 06:02am EDT

The EU and most governments in its Western region are concerned about legal changes by Poland and Hungary that they think are eroding the rule of law, weakening judicial independence, and breaching human rights. They are particularly alarmed by an effort by Warsaw to assert the primacy of Polish law over EU law and court decisions.

A Year After Beirut Explosion, Lebanese Are Still Seeking Justice

BEIRUT-Demonstrations against Lebanon's political elite are set to be held on Wednesday as civil-society groups demand justice for the deadly explosion in Beirut a year ago, which they blame on their leaders.

An investigation into the port blast on Aug. 4 last year has so far failed to provide accountability for one of the biggest nonnuclear explosions in history. The explosion killed more than 200 people, injured some 7,000 and devastated some of the Lebanese capital's liveliest residential and commercial areas.

Ship Seized in Gulf of Oman Amid Rising Tensions With Iran Is Let Go

A tanker ship in the Gulf of Oman was seized Tuesday by suspected Iranian gunmen, Western officials said, amid rising regional tensions following a fatal drone attack on another vessel that the U.S. and its allies have blamed on the Islamic Republic.

The tanker was boarded near the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, according to the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations, which is affiliated with the British Defense Ministry.

Belarusian Activist Vitaly Shyshov's Death Is Investigated in Ukraine as Homicide

MOSCOW-A Belarusian activist who headed a group in Ukraine that helps Belarusians escape repression in their homeland was found dead a day after disappearing near his home in Kyiv, an incident that comes amid an intensifying crackdown on Belarusian activists.

Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday they were investigating the death of Vitaly Shyshov, who was found hanged in a park not far from his residence, as a homicide. All scenarios would be investigated, including the possibility of murder disguised as suicide, police said.

Deutsche Bank Set to Resume Sponsoring Hong Kong IPOs After Filling Staffing Gap

Deutsche Bank AG is set to regain its ability to sponsor Hong Kong initial public offerings, after losing the capability temporarily in June when it failed to line up replacements in time for two departing staffers.

Sponsors take a senior role in an IPO in Hong Kong, conducting due diligence on companies that are preparing to go public and helping guide the companies through the listing process. Banks and brokerage companies that act as sponsors need to have at least two experienced individuals serving as IPO principals who have been approved by the city's Securities and Futures Commission.

GLOBAL NEWS

China Services-Sector Gauge Rebounded in July

A private gauge of China's services sector unexpectedly rebounded in July after slipping to a 14-month low in June, as new orders picked up.

However, China's recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases since late July is set to overshadow its services sector and weaken the economic outlook, as local governments have imposed stringent lockdown and quarantine measures to stop the spread of the virus.

Tencent Selloff Shows Deep Scar Tissue in Chinese Markets

China's recent crackdown on education companies has left scars that could be long in healing.

Putting the fear of God into investors may help Beijing direct capital more easily into areas it prefers, but also risks magnifying volatility and complicating corporate-investment plans, as every regulatory blip is seen as a possible death sentence.

Crypto 'Wild West' Needs Stronger Investor Protection, SEC Chief Says

WASHINGTON-The Securities and Exchange Commission will regulate cryptocurrency markets to the maximum extent possible using its existing authority, Chairman Gary Gensler said Tuesday, while also calling on Congress to grant the agency more scope and resources to oversee the sector.

Calling the asset class rife with "fraud, scams and abuse," Mr. Gensler signaled the SEC is likely to become more active in policing crypto trading and lending platforms, as well as so-called stablecoins.

Australia Faces a Deep Third-Quarter GDP Contraction, RBA Board Member Says

SYDNEY-A deep contraction in Australia's economy in the third quarter looks unavoidable, and significant uncertainty hangs over the fourth quarter due to lengthening lockdowns across major cities, said Ian Harper, dean of Melbourne Business School, and Reserve Bank of Australia board member.

Still, surging vaccination rates offer hope of a rebound in growth that could be more powerful than anything yet seen during the pandemic, he said

Florida Battles Record Covid-19 Hospitalizations, as Delta Variant Surges

Covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida have reached a record high, federal data show, as the state battles a surge in cases brought on by the highly contagious Delta variant.

There were 11,515 confirmed Covid-19 hospitalizations in the state, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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

08-04-21 0601ET

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