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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Fall as -2-

09/24/2021 | 06:32am EDT

Electricity prices have risen to their highest levels in more than a decade in recent weeks, according to the International Energy Agency. This is largely attributable to prices for natural gas world-wide, which have soared due to demand being higher than expected, spurred by the global economic rebound, and because of crimped supply.

German Business Sentiment Falls for Third Month Running in September

German business sentiment worsened again in September, as supply-chain bottlenecks clouded the short-term outlook.

The Ifo business-climate index decreased to 98.8 points in September from 99.6 points in August, data from the Ifo Institute showed Friday. This marks the third consecutive month of decline after it peaked at 101.8 in June.

Naturgy's Largest Shareholder Opposes $5.7 Bln Partial Takeover Bid

Naturgy Energy Group SA's single largest shareholder said Friday that it would reject an offer for a stake in the company launched by IFM Global Infrastructure Fund, arguing that the move isn't in the company's long-term interests.

CriteriaCaixa, an investment holding company linked to CaixaBank SA, said it opposed the offer to acquire a 22.69% stake made by IFM through its investment vehicle Global InfraCo 0 (2). The offer was first made in January, with the bid later revised downward from 23 euros to EUR22.07 a share, or total 4.86 billion euros ($5.70 billion.) The offer was approved by Spanish regulator the CNMV earlier this month.

Apple Insists EU Push for Universal Charger Would Repress Innovation, Create Waste

Apple Inc. hit back at European Union moves to introduce a universal charger for smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices, saying such legislation would be anti-innovation and would serve to increase waste.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said Thursday that it is proposing USB-C as the standard port for smartphones, tablets, headphones, portable speakers, cameras, and some videogame consoles, regardless of the device brand. The move aims to cut waste related to the production and disposal of chargers.

U.K. Consumer Confidence Wanes in September on Inflation Fears

Confidence among British consumers took a hit in September, falling to a five-month low, as concerns over high inflation and the end of government support soured consumers' mood.

GfK's consumer-confidence barometer came in at minus 13 in September, down five points from August and missing economists expectations, who had forecast a reading of minus seven when polled by The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. and European Economies Slowed by Delta Variant, Supply Chain Bottlenecks

The U.S. and European economies slowed in September as supply-chain bottlenecks and worries over the Delta variant weighed on businesses, adding to signs the global economy is experiencing a soft patch amid an uneven recovery, purchasing managers' surveys showed.

Manufacturing and services businesses in both the U.S. and Eurozone reported slower growth in activity this month, although the pullback was more pronounced in Europe.

Turkish Lira Falls Near Record Lows After Rate Cut

Turkey's central bank cut its key interest rate on Thursday in a move that could complicate the country's path to economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and a prolonged inflation problem.

Officials cut Turkey's key policy rate, its one-week repo rate, to 18% from 19%. Following the announcement, the Turkish lira fell 1.3% against the dollar, with one dollar buying 8.767901 lira, just shy of record lows hit in June.

Migrant Candidates Face Racism in German Election

BERLIN-More German Turks will run for election this year than at any time in the past two decades, but candidates from Germany's largest ethnic minority say they often face racism, underlining the difficulties the country faces in integrating its diverse migrant communities.

"I had 400 campaign posters, and I think 250 of them are already destroyed with racist slurs," said Orkan Özdemir, a center-left candidate for the Berlin House of Representatives, which elects its members Sunday, the same day as the country's general election.

CDC Chief Backs Pfizer Boosters for At-Risk Workers in Break With Panel

The director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said workers at high risk of Covid-19 infection should receive a booster of Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine, in a decision that deviated from the recommendation of an advisory panel that the CDC typically follows.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from the panel, saying boosters should be offered to people 65 and over as well as those 50 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions, according to the Associated Press. The extra dose would be given at least six months after the last shot.

GLOBAL NEWS

Buying a Share of a Collectible Guitar? In This Market, You May Get Shredded.

Space-tourism companies, flying-taxi startups and pizza-related cryptocurrencies are among the unlikely ventures to have recently reached public markets. Now it is the turn of electric guitars.

This month, American guitar maker Gibson said it would use Rally, a site specializing in collectibles, to issue shares in prototype instruments designed in collaboration with famous players. Ownership of an EDS-1275 doubleneck model approved by Slash, of the band Guns N' Roses, was chopped into 13,000 parts and sold for $5 apiece to 562 investors in just two hours.

China Evergrande Keeps Dollar Bondholders Guessing on Key Interest Payment

Global investors who own China Evergrande Group's U.S. dollar bonds were in the dark Thursday about whether the property giant would make a key interest payment, a major test of the highly indebted developer's ability to avoid a default.

Evergrande was on the hook to make $83.5 million in coupon payments on Sept. 23 on dollar bonds with a face value of $2.03 billion. As of late afternoon in New York on Thursday, bondholders hadn't received the money, according to people familiar with the matter.

Democratic Leaders Scramble to Find Areas of Agreement on $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill

WASHINGTON-Democratic leaders raced Thursday to find enough agreement around a roughly $3.5 trillion spending package to assuage concerns between the party's dueling centrist and liberal factions that threatened to derail a separate vote on an infrastructure package next week.

Liberal Democrats have said the two bills are linked and have balked at voting for the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package on Monday in the House unless the broader healthcare, education and climate-change package has passed. The infrastructure bill has already cleared the Senate with bipartisan support, and moderates have urged leadership to bring it to the floor in the House.

IMF Calls for Lending Clamps to Cool Australia's Housing Price Surge

SYDNEY--The International Monetary Fund has added to calls for regulatory steps to be taken to cool surging house price growth in Australia, warning of building "incipient risks" in the market.

In an Article IV discussion paper, the IMF said so-called macroprudential policy should be tightened to address gradually rising financial stability risks.

America's Cash Might Stay on the Sidelines

If Americans ever feel comfortable again, they have a lot of money that they can spend. But who knows when that comfort will come?

The Federal Reserve on Thursday reported that the net worth of U.S. households was $134 trillion in the second quarter-up from $128.4 trillion in the first quarter. That figure stood at $110 trillion In the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic took hold. Including nonprofits, accumulated household net worth in the second quarter hit a record $141.7 trillion.

Trapped in Kabul, Prominent Afghan Women Fear Retribution Under Taliban Rule

KABUL-Nabila, a 31-year-old Afghan judge, used to grant divorces to the wives of militants while their husbands languished in prison. Two days after the Taliban captured Kabul on Aug. 15 and emptied prisons across the country, she received threatening calls from several of these men.

She broke her SIM card, packed light and went into hiding.

North Korea Calls Peace-Deal Proposal by South's Moon Jae-in Premature

SEOUL-North Korea dismissed a proposal by South Korea's president for a peace declaration, calling the proposition premature as Pyongyang sees what it calls continuing aggression from Washington and Seoul.

During a speech Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested the adoption of a peace deal that would replace the armistice that halted hostilities in the 1950-1953 Korean War. He proposed that the U.S., along with the two Koreas and possibly China, agree to declare the war over.

U.S. Officials Call for Fines Against Companies That Don't Report Hacks

Top U.S. cyber officials on Thursday urged Congress to add more teeth to any legislation forcing firms that operate critical infrastructure to disclose hacks, calling for a narrow reporting window after a breach and fines against companies that don't comply.

Such mandates could help federal agencies and critical economic sectors to respond to incidents, security experts say. But many businesses and some lawmakers are wary of the tighter regulation and potential penalties for which the Biden administration is advocating.

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

09-24-21 0631ET

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