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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING - Stocks Rise, Bank of -2-

11/04/2021 | 06:32am EST

Siemens Healthineers AG said Thursday that net income and revenue rose in its fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, while it set targets for 2022.

The German medical-equipment maker said net income came in at 466 million euros ($541.1 million) in the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from EUR432 million a year earlier.

BT 1H Pretax Profit Fell, Brings Forward Savings Target

BT Group PLC said Thursday that pretax profit for the first half of fiscal 2022 fell slightly but brought forward its cost-savings target, and said it has decided to retain full control over its fiber-to-the-premises broadband program.

The U.K. telecommunications company said that for the six months ended Sept. 30, pretax profit slipped to 1.01 billion pounds ($1.38 billion) from GBP1.06 billion on the back of higher finance expenses.

Novartis to Sell Roche Stake to Roche for $20.7 Bln

Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG said Thursday that the Swiss pharmaceutical companies have agreed for Novartis to sell its holding of Roche bearer shares to Roche for a total consideration of $20.7 billion.

Novartis said it expects to report a gain from the transaction of approximately $14 billion.

ING 3Q Net Profit Rose Sharply, Supported by Increased Income

ING Groep NV on Thursday reported a higher net profit for the third quarter from the prior year, and said that it aims to reduce its funding for the oil-and-gas sector by 2025 as part of its target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Dutch bank posted a net profit for the period of 1.37 billion euros ($1.59 billion) compared with EUR788 million for the same period a year earlier.

Telefonica Returned to Profit in 3Q, Backs 2021 Targets

Telefonica SA returned to profit in the third quarter and backed its targets for the year.

The Spanish telecommunication company on Thursday posted a profit of 706 million euros ($819.8 million) compared with a loss of EUR160 million for the third quarter last year.

Sainsbury Swung to 1H Pretax Profit, Says It Is Well Placed for Christmas

J Sainsbury PLC on Thursday reported a swing to a pretax profit for the first half of fiscal 2022 as a reflection of lower restructuring and impairment costs, and said that it is prepared for Christmas despite supply-chain challenges.

The British grocer posted a pretax profit of 541 million pounds ($740.3 million) for the six months ended Sept. 18 compared with a loss of GBP137 million for the same period a year earlier. The company said the increase was due to an exceptional income of GBP181 million, which came from settling legal disputes.

GLOBAL NEWS

Jobless Claims Likely Extended Drop Toward Levels Seen Before Covid-19

Worker filings for unemployment benefits likely extended their downward march last week as they began to approach levels last seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, economists say.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate that the Labor Department will report Thursday that initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, decreased to 275,000 during the week ended Oct. 30 from 281,000 in the previous week.

Inflation Debate Hangs Over Stock Market's Record Run

Some traders stuck with wagers on stubbornly high inflation after Wednesday's Federal Reserve meeting, underlining a divergence in expectations between segments of the bond market and the U.S. central bank.

Stocks climbed to fresh records after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's press conference assured investors the central bank wouldn't be overly aggressive with rate hikes, even as it laid out plans to end bond purchases by June. Mr. Powell said that the central bank believes inflation will dip by the second or third quarter of next year, as businesses increase the production of goods and supply-chain snarls ease.

Options Activity Tied to Avis, Meme Stocks Explodes

Traders are rushing to place options bets on Avis Budget Group Inc. and other meme stocks.

Options activity tied to Avis surged to the highest level in at least three years on Tuesday and the heavy trading continued Wednesday.

House Democrats Add Paid Leave, State-and-Local Tax Deduction to Bill

WASHINGTON-House Democrats released an updated version of the party's social spending and climate package, adding back a paid-leave program that had previously fallen out of the bill and including a measure sharply raising the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction.

The House bill, which top Democrats want to bring up to a vote in the chamber soon, is the latest proposal in the monthslong negotiations among Democrats over President Biden's agenda. But it is set to face changes in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) has objected to the inclusion of a paid-leave benefit.

Fed Dials Back Bond Purchases, Plots End to Stimulus by June

The Federal Reserve closed a chapter on its aggressive, pandemic-driven stimulus when it approved plans Wednesday to begin scaling back its bond-buying program this month amid concerns that inflationary pressures could last longer than officials expected earlier this year.

Fed officials agreed to wind down their $120-billion-a-month asset-purchase program by $15 billion each in November and December, a pace that could phase out the purchases entirely by next June.

Cathie Wood's Flagship ETF Buys More Zillow Shares Amid Steep Drop

Cathie Wood's flagship exchange-traded fund bought roughly $25 million worth of shares in Zillow Group Inc. Tuesday, the day the real-estate company's stock plunged after it said it would exit the home-flipping business.

Ms. Wood's ARK Innovation ETF bought 288,813 shares in Zillow on Tuesday, according to the fund's trading website. The fund had previously also bought Zillow shares in late September.

North Korea Can Make More Uranium for Nuclear Bombs Than Previously Thought

SEOUL-North Korea has the capacity to make more base ingredients for nuclear bombs than previously believed, according to new research, suggesting the Kim Jong Un regime possesses the potential to accelerate the earliest stages of production.

The nation's output of uranium-a fissile material for nuclear weapons when enriched-is just a fraction of what could be produced, according to new research from Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Pregnant Women Who Doubt Covid-19 Vaccine Safety Worry Doctors

Jaime Francis is avoiding all medication during her pregnancy, including Covid-19 vaccines.

Her obstetrician advised her not to take some common painkillers including ibuprofen, she said, and she didn't fill a prescription she was given for nausea. With the Covid-19 vaccine, the 22-year-old delivery driver from Sparta Township, N.J., said she fears potential long-term developmental effects of the vaccine that might not be known yet. Doctors and researchers say the shots are safe, effective and crucial for pregnant women, who face higher risks of severe Covid-19 than the rest of the population.

Military Coups in Africa at Highest Level Since End of Colonialism

On the day before launching the coup that halted Sudan's democratic transition last month, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan made a string of daring geopolitical moves. He reassured Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. envoy to Sudan, that he didn't intend to seize power. Then he boarded a jet to Egypt for secret talks to ensure his plot would have regional support.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who seized power in a 2013 coup backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, reassured his fellow general, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

China Expands Nuclear Weapons Arsenal to Better Compete Globally, Pentagon Says

WASHINGTON-China's military is expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than U.S. defense officials expected, as part of an overall modernization of its armed forces to better compete militarily with the U.S., according to a Pentagon assessment.

At the new, accelerated pace, Beijing could have about 700 nuclear warheads in the next six years, and 1,000 by 2030, according to the annual report on Chinese military power released Wednesday. Those levels are well above the 200-plus warheads last year's report said Beijing possessed and double the previous projections of 400 to 500 warheads by the end of the decade.

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

11-04-21 0731ET

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