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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Rise as -2-

09/22/2021 | 06:19am EDT

Traton SE said Wednesday that shortages of semiconductors and other parts are hitting sales in the third quarter and are expected to continue into the next year.

Volkswagen AG's truck maker said vehicle sales in the current quarter will be significantly lower than planned due to the shortages, which it expects to continue into and beyond the fourth quarter. All of its brands, including recently acquired Navistar, are affected, it said.

Ifo Institute Cuts Growth Forecast for Germany in 2021 to 2.5%

The Ifo Institute has cut its growth forecast for Germany in 2021 by 0.8 percentage point to 2.5%, as the economy didn't rebound as strongly as expected in the third quarter.

The Ifo downgraded its forecasts for 2021, but raised its growth forecast for 2022 by 0.8 percentage point to 5.1%. In 2023, growth will be 1.5%, the Ifo said.

Entain Considers Improved GBP16.4 Bln Bid From DraftKings

Entain PLC said Wednesday that it is considering a new, improved takeover bid from DraftKings Inc. after rejecting an earlier offer from the U.S. digital sports-betting and entertainment company.

Entain, a betting-and-gambling group, said the new offer is for 2,800 pence ($38.25) a share, consisting of 630 pence in cash and the balance payable in DraftKings shares. This represents a premium of 46% to Entain's closing price on Monday, and values the company at 16.40 billion pounds ($22.40 billion).

Iliad to Acquire UPC Poland From Liberty Global

Iliad SA said Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire cable operator UPC Poland for an enterprise value of 7 billion zloty ($1.78 billion) from Liberty Global PLC.

The French telecommunications company said its subsidiary, Play, which it acquired in 2020, would take 100% of UPC Poland's share capital in the deal that would help Iliad to expand further into the Polish telecom market.

Airbus Confident in Raised Production Targets, CCO Says

Airbus SE's order book is strong enough to assure production will continue to grow as previously guided, and could perhaps be raised further, according to the European plane maker's chief commercial officer.

Airbus in May said that it was stepping up production, targeting a monthly production of 64 planes of the A320 family by the second quarter of 2023, a higher rate than before the pandemic. Group CCO Christian Scherer told journalists late Tuesday that he was confident that the order book is currently strong enough to ensure this level of production, and that it could even go higher.

Legrand Backs Mid-Term Targets; to Focus on Fast-Growing Divisions

Legrand SA on Wednesday confirmed its mid-term sales and operating-margin targets, and said that it plans to concentrate on spurring growth in its most promising business segments.

Marking its capital-markets day, the French industrial group reiterated its mid-term targets, set out in February, of achieving average annual organic sales growth between 5% and 10%, as well as an adjusted operating margin of around 20%. Legrand is also aiming for normalized free cash flow of between 13% and 15% of sales on average.

Swedbank Launches Search for New Compliance Chief

STOCKHOLM-Swedbank AB said Tuesday it has launched a search process to find a new chief compliance officer after its current compliance officer, Ingrid Harbo, decided to retire.

Ms. Harbo, who has been a member of the Swedish bank's group executive committee since 2019, will leave the company on March 31, 2022, and remain in her role until then, Swedbank said in a statement Tuesday.

GLOBAL NEWS

Fed Meeting Will Focus on Taper Timetable

Federal Reserve officials will look to forge agreement Wednesday over how and when to begin reducing their large-scale bond-buying efforts, which they launched early in the pandemic to stimulate the U.S. economy.

The central bank in July gave its first signal that officials were more confident the economy was meeting their goals. Since then, senior leaders including Fed Chairman Jerome Powell have indicated they could start to reduce, or taper, those purchases this year.

China Evergrande Onshore Unit Will Pay Yuan Bond Interest on Time

An onshore unit of China Evergrande Group said Wednesday it would make an interest payment on time this week, as investors wait to see if the debt-ridden conglomerate makes a separate payment due on dollar bonds that it is expected to miss.

The unit, Hengda Real Estate Group Co., will pay 232 million yuan, or the equivalent of about $35.9 million, of interest on its 5.80% September 2025 onshore yuan-denominated bond on Thursday, the company said in a stock-exchange filing.

Ida Storm Damage Expected to Cost Insurers at Least $31 Billion

Ida is poised to join Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Irma on the list of the top five costliest hurricanes as measured by insured losses.

Estimates of Ida's damage have continued to climb as insurers disclose their costs. In one of the newest revisions, Risk Management Solutions Inc., a major catastrophe-risk modeling firm, last week estimated Ida's U.S. insured losses at between $31 billion and $44 billion since its Aug. 29 landing in Louisiana.

BOJ Sticks to Ultra-Easy Monetary Policy Path

TOKYO--The Bank of Japan on Wednesday confirmed it would stick to an ultra-easy monetary policy, while other major central banks are moving toward scaling back their asset purchases.

The Japanese central bank maintained its target for short-term interest rates at minus 0.1% and its target for the 10-year Japanese government bond yield at around zero. It also reiterated that it would purchase JGBs without an upper limit.

Infrastructure Plan Faces Fresh Uncertainty as Democrats Remain Divided

WASHINGTON-Persistent divisions among Democrats over the size of their climate and social-welfare plan are threatening to derail much of President Biden's agenda, as progressives signal that they could block passage of a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package next week.

As the party struggles to find a path forward, Mr. Biden plans to meet Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) at the White House to discuss the two proposals, according to a person familiar with his schedule. Mr. Biden was also expected to convene a group of House and Senate Democrats to discuss the proposals as he takes a more prominent role in steering his legislative agenda through Congress.

Debt-Limit Suspension Passes House, Faces Standoff in Senate

WASHINGTON-The House passed Tuesday a measure keeping the government funded until early December and suspending its borrowing limit through 2022, but without having resolved the partisan standoff poised to derail it in the Senate.

With less than two weeks before the government's current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 1, the House passed in a 220-211 party-line vote a package unveiled earlier in the day that would fund the government through Dec. 3, 2021, and suspend the debt limit through Dec. 16, 2022. The Treasury Department is currently using emergency measures to cover America's bills for several months until the debt limit is raised or suspended again.

RBA Ramps Up Warnings About Soaring House Prices, Instability Risk

SYDNEY-The Reserve Bank of Australia has significantly ramped up warnings about the growing risk of financial-sector instability if house prices continue to surge, adding to already considerable levels of household debt across the economy.

Michele Bullock, RBA assistant governor for financial system, said in a speech on Wednesday that even though Australia's banks have strong balance sheets and lending standards are being maintained, "a high level of debt could pose risks to the economy in the event of a shock to household incomes or a sharp decline in housing prices."

SEC's Gensler Doesn't See Cryptocurrencies Lasting Long

WASHINGTON-Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler said Tuesday he doesn't see much long-term viability for cryptocurrencies, underscoring the importance of protecting investors in the market and bringing it under regulatory oversight.

Mr. Gensler likened the thousands of cryptocurrencies in existence to the so-called wildcat banking era that took hold in the U.S. from 1837 until 1863 in the absence of federal bank regulation. Before President Abraham Lincoln created the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, banks issued their own currencies, which they sometimes refused to redeem for their purported value in gold or silver.

Liz Cheney's Re-Election Bid Pits Trump Against Bush

WASHINGTON-The race for Wyoming's single U.S. House district has pitted two of the biggest names in Republican politics against one another: both of the party's living former presidents.

Former President George W. Bush's first campaign event of the 2022 midterms will be a fundraiser to support Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who is among former President Donald Trump's top targets to unseat. The fundraiser will be held next month in Dallas, according to a copy of an invitation viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

U.S., Russian Military Officials Meet Amid Concerns About Terrorism Fight

HELSINKI-The Pentagon's top officer met with his Russian counterpart in the Finnish capital Wednesday amid American and allied efforts to find ways to fight terrorism after the departure of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan last month.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley met here with Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, officials said. U.S. military officials declined to provide any details of the meeting, except to issue a brief statement saying the two discussed "risk reduction and operational de-confliction."

China's Xi Commits to Stop Building Coal Plants Abroad

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

09-22-21 0618ET

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