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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING - Stocks Fall After Weak -2-

10/18/2021 | 04:37am EST

The U.S. social-media giant said Sunday it would embark on a recruiting drive for highly skilled workers in the region to help build a "metaverse," an online realm where users engage with one another using technologies including virtual and augmented reality. The company said it would focus on hiring in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland.

German Reinsurers Eye Higher Prices After Flood-Hit Year

German reinsurers said Monday that they expect higher prices in Europe in January renewals as the industry handles major natural-catastrophe losses and higher inflation.

Muenchener Rueckversicherungs-Gesellschaft AG and Hannover Rueck SE's local subsidiary E+S Rueckversicherung AG said disastrous flooding in Germany, alongside losses due to the pandemic and rising inflation, will result in higher prices for primary insurance and reinsurance.

Siemens To Carve Out Large-Drives Applications Unit

Siemens AG said Monday that it will carve out its large-drives unit as it continues its strategy to refocus the group.

The German industrial and technology company will spin off the activities of its Large Drives Applications division, which makes heavy-duty drive systems for ships, mines and mills, into separate legal entities, a spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.

Playtech Agrees to GBP Bln Aristocrat Leisure Takeover

Playtech PLC said late Sunday that it has agreed to a 2.1 billion-pound ($2.89 billion) takeover from Australian-listed gaming content and technology company Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. through its subsidiary Aristocrat (UK) Holdings Ltd.

Under the offer, accepting shareholders of the FTSE 250-listed gambling-technology company will get 680 pence in cash for each share owned. The offer price is a 58% premium to Playtech's closing price of 429.20 pence on Friday.

U.K. House Prices Hit Record High Across All Market Segments in October

U.K. house prices in October rose 1.8%, with every region and market segment delivering increases, according to new data from property portal Rightmove PLC.

The average price of property coming to the market rose by 5,983 pounds ($8,181) in October, the largest percentage jump for this time of year since 2015 and bringing the national average to an all-time high of GBP344,445, Rightmove said. The portal measured 88,694 prices across the U.K over the period from Sept. 12 to Oct. 9.

Some Investors Say Bank Pledges to Cut Funding for Arctic Drilling Contain Loopholes

Some of the world's largest banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings PLC and BNP Paribas SA, pledged in recent years to stop direct financing of Arctic oil exploration. The idea was to choke off money for fossil-fuel extraction in a pristine natural environment.

A battle has broken out among investors, environmentalists and banks over those pledges. Some investors and environmentalists say they contain loopholes, and money has continued to flow from big banks to companies active in areas of Norway, Russia, Canada and Alaska rich in oil and gas. Under pressure, two of the banks, BNP and HSBC, say they are reviewing their pledges to make them stronger.

Nigeria's Gangs Raised Millions by Kidnapping Children. Now the Government Can't Stop Them.

GUSAU, Nigeria-The masked men emerged from the forest on motorbikes, surrounding a young intelligence officer clutching a cash-filled bag. The ransom, nearly $50,000 in crisp Nigerian bank notes, wasn't for a person, but to retrieve a weapon that directly threatened the country's president.

A kidnapping gang encamped in Nigeria's Rugu forest had seized an antiaircraft gun in a clash with a military unit. That posed a threat to President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been planning to fly to his hometown about 80 miles away, and the government needed to buy it back.

British Police Question Alleged Attacker in Killing of Conservative Lawmaker David Amess

LONDON-British police Sunday were questioning a 25-year-old man they say stabbed to death a Conservative member of parliament as authorities sought to determine whether he was motivated by Islamic extremism.

The suspect in the killing of Tory lawmaker David Amess on Friday was identified as Ali Harbi Ali, a U.K. citizen of Somali descent, according to a British official. Authorities haven't officially named him. He was being held at a London police station under the Terror Act.

As Afghanistan Sinks Into Destitution, Some Sell Children to Survive

HERAT, Afghanistan-Desperate to feed her family, Saleha, a housecleaner here in western Afghanistan, has incurred such an insurmountable debt that the only way she sees out is to hand over her 3-year-old daughter, Najiba, to the man who lent her the money.

The debt is $550.


China Faces Slower Growth Path as It Pursues Longer-Term Reforms

HONG KONG-With its pandemic recovery in the rear-view mirror, China now faces a prolonged period of slower growth with increasing policy uncertainties as Beijing attempts to carry out ambitious long-term reforms.

China's economy recorded a steeper-than-expected economic slowdown in the third quarter of the year, expanding 4.9% from a year earlier. The disappointing growth rate reflected a host of headwinds: Tighter rules on the property market that have chilled activity in the sector, widespread power shortages and continued concerns about Covid-19 that have weighed on consumer spending.

Supply-Chain Bottlenecks, Elevated Inflation to Last Well Into Next Year, Survey Finds

Uncomfortably high inflation will grip the U.S. economy well into 2022, as constrained supply chains keep upward pressure on prices and, increasingly, curb output, according to economists surveyed this month by The Wall Street Journal.

The economists' inflation projections are up dramatically from July, while short-term growth outlooks are lower.

GOP Sees Opening as Biden Copes With Pre-Christmas Inflation, Supply-Chain Issues

The White House is wrestling with supply-chain issues and elevated inflation ahead of the winter holiday shopping season-two economic problems that Republicans say the administration's own policies would exacerbate, driving up the risk of empty store shelves and higher holiday prices.

With just over a month to go before the holiday shopping season unofficially starts the day after Thanksgiving, the Biden administration is seeking ways to ease the bottlenecks in the strained supply chain, while acknowledging that they might not be able resolve all those pressures immediately.

Green Investing Looks to Clean Up the Maritime Industry

First bonds went green. Now they are going blue.

Seaspan Corp., the world's largest containership lessor by cargo-carrying capacity, sold nearly $1 billion of so-called blue bonds earlier this year that sought to entice new investors by promising to fund vessels that will lower emissions and pollution at sea.

'Crazy' Bets on $200 Oil Invade the Options Market

A roaring trade in bullish crude-oil options says the 2021 energy rally is far from over.

Traders once again are betting that the U.S. oil benchmark will surge above $100 a barrel, from a recent $82, as early as December. U.S. crude, known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, is up 10% this month, and 70% this year, but it hasn't hit $100 since the oil crash of 2014.

Global Investors Gain a New Way to Bet on Stocks in China

Hong Kong started trading in futures tied to an index of stocks from mainland China, giving global investors a new tool for betting on Chinese markets.

The futures are linked to the MSCI China A 50 Connect Index, which was launched in August. The benchmark covers major A shares-as stocks listed in either Shanghai or Shenzhen are known-that are accessible to international investors through the Stock Connect system that links onshore markets with Hong Kong.

Behind the Energy Crisis: Fossil Fuel Investment Drops, and Renewables Aren't Ready

An energy price shock is serving as a reminder of the world's continued dependency on fossil fuels-even amid efforts to shift to renewable sources of energy.

Demand for oil, coal and natural gas has skyrocketed world-wide in recent weeks as unusual weather conditions and resurgent economies emerging from the pandemic combine to create energy shortages from China to Brazil to the U.K.

Economy Week Ahead: China GDP, U.S. Industry and Housing

The latest snapshot of China's economic growth, U.S. industrial production and the housing market highlight this week's economic data.

Cars Are Making Money Like Homes-For Now

Financially, your car is behaving more like your home right now, bringing new opportunities and hard-to-foresee risks.

Used-vehicle values have broken records over the past year, with inflation running at an unprecedented 24%, according to the latest official data. This is painful for car buyers, but there is a less-discussed flip side: It is a great time to be a car owner.

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

10-18-21 0637ET

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