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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING - Stocks, Oil Rise on -2-

12/06/2021 | 06:33am EST

Manufacturing orders declined 6.9% on month in October in adjusted terms, following a revised 1.8% rise in September, according to data from federal statistics office Destatis released Monday.

Italian Billionaires, Fondazione CRT Raise Overall Stake in Generali

Billionaires Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone and Leonardo Del Vecchio together with banking foundation Fondazione CRT have taken their overall stake in Assicurazioni Generali SpA to more than 15%, the Italian insurer said on Saturday.

The Caltagirone Group currently holds a 7.558% stake in Generali, while Delfin Sarl, steered by Mr. Del Vecchio, has a 6.139% stake. Turin-based Fondazione CRT holds a 1.474% stake in the company.

Saint-Gobain Agreed to Buy GCP Applied Technologies

Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA said Monday that it has agreed to acquire GCP Applied Technologies in a deal valued at around $2.3 billion.

The French construction-materials company plans to take over all outstanding shares of GCP for $32 a share in cash. The price represents a premium of 39% above the volume-weighted average price of each GCP share for the 30 trading days ended on Nov. 30, it said.

U.S. Plans to Fast-Track Revamped Covid-19 Vaccines

The Biden administration is preparing to fast-track authorization of revamped Covid-19 vaccines to combat Omicron as a study from South Africa suggests the fast-spreading variant might cause less severe illness than its predecessors.

Federal regulators on Sunday said cases have been identified in 16 states and that the Food and Drug Administration is already in conversations about streamlining authorization for revamped vaccines. Agency officials have met with vaccine makers and are working to set guidelines for the type of data that will be needed to swiftly evaluate the safety and efficacy of changes to current vaccines.

Omicron's Spread Exposes South Africa's Vaccination Struggles, Public Distrust

JOHANNESBURG-South Africa's sputtering Covid-19 vaccine rollout, hampered first by dose shortages and more recently public distrust, has left many of its 60 million people potentially exposed as the new Omicron variant spreads across the country.

In recent days, more people have turned out to get their shots amid warnings from scientists and the World Health Organization about Omicron, which has driven a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in the country's most populous province of Gauteng, home to Johannesburg, over the past two weeks.

China Seeks First Military Base on Africa's Atlantic Coast, U.S. Intelligence Finds

BATA, Equatorial Guinea-Classified American intelligence reports suggest China intends to establish its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean in the tiny Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, according to U.S. officials.

The officials declined to describe details of the secret intelligence findings. But they said the reports raise the prospect that Chinese warships would be able to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast of the U.S.-a threat that is setting off alarm bells at the White House and Pentagon.

Explosion Heard Near Iranian Nuclear Site Natanz

TEHRAN, Iran-An explosion shook the area near Iran's main nuclear-enrichment plant late on Saturday, prompting conflicting explanations from Iranian officials as Tehran engages in talks with world powers over its nuclear program.

The blast was heard in the area of Badroud, around 12 miles from the Natanz nuclear site, according to IRNA, Iran's state news agency. The incident involved a sound and then a flash of light in the sky, reported Fars News Agency, an organization close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Arab Gulf States Compete for Influence in Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan

DUBAI-America's Gulf Arab allies are stepping up their involvement in Afghanistan, expanding their diplomatic presence and resuming flights as competition for influence over the new Taliban administration heats up.

Qatar, which housed the Taliban's political office for several years and served as the venue for the Islamist movement's peace talks with the U.S., capitalized on that influence to become a key conduit between Afghanistan and the West after the Taliban seized power on Aug. 15.


China's Central Bank Cuts Reserve Requirement Ratio for Banks

BEIJING-China's central bank said Monday it would lower the amount of funds banks have to set aside, replenishing liquidity into the financial system in a bid to support the economy and cut financing costs for businesses.

The People's Bank of China said in a statement that it would cut banks' reserve requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage point, which will bring the weighted average RRR level for the whole banking system to 8.4%. The cut won't apply to county-level rural lenders whose RRR stands at 5%, the central bank added.

High Inflation, Falling Unemployment Prompted Powell's Fed Pivot

Just four weeks ago, the Federal Reserve set in motion carefully telegraphed plans to gradually wind down a bond-buying stimulus program by June. Officials are making plans to accelerate the process at their policy meeting next week, ending it by March instead.

The abrupt shift opens the door to the Fed raising interest rates next spring rather than later in the year to curb inflation, marking a significant policy pivot by Chairman Jerome Powell shortly after President Biden offered him a second four-year term leading the central bank.

Nasdaq Is On Track to Beat NYSE in Record Year for IPOs

Nasdaq Inc. is poised to beat the New York Stock Exchange in initial public offerings this year, far outpacing its crosstown rival during a record year for capital raised in U.S. public markets.

IPOs at Nasdaq have raised $191 billion this year through Friday, compared with $109 billion for new listings at the NYSE, according to Dealogic. Nasdaq's commanding lead with only a few weeks left in 2021 means it is likely to beat the Big Board for the third year in a row.

Putin Troop Buildup Near Ukraine Raises Concerns of Potential 2022 Invasion, U.S. Officials Say

WASHINGTON-Russian President Vladimir Putin is amassing a force expected to total 175,000 troops near Russia's border with Ukraine, giving him the capability for a potential invasion of his neighbor by early 2022, administration officials said Friday.

The officials, citing new intelligence reports that include images from spy satellites, said the Russian military buildup differs markedly from an earlier massing of troops in the spring. When completed, they said, it will be twice the size of that previous buildup. In addition, Russia has embarked on a rapid mobilization of reservists.

Russia, India to Reinforce Defense Ties as U.S. Considers Sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to extend his country's close defense ties with India this week on a visit that highlights the challenges facing the U.S. as it courts Indian assistance in countering China.

Mr. Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to sign agreements including one extending military technical cooperation until 2031 and another to produce more than 500,000 Russian-designed rifles in India, according to officials involved in the visit.

Venezuela's U.S.-Backed Opposition Movement in Danger of Breaking Up

The political movement the U.S. has backed in Venezuela to challenge the country's authoritarian government is on the verge of breaking up after a major faction announced its withdrawal on Sunday.

Julio Borges, a leading figure in the antiregime coalition, called for an end to the leadership of Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and dozens of allies have backed as Venezuela's legitimate president since January 2019 in a strategy to remove strongman President Nicolás Maduro. Until now, Mr. Guaidó has been leader of a movement that calls itself an interim government, complete with a bureaucracy and diplomats.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

12-06-21 0633ET

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