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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Rise to Start -2-

08/02/2021 | 06:21am EDT

Deutsche Bank AG's asset management arm, DWS Group, tells investors that environmental, social and governance concerns are at the heart of everything it does and that its ESG standards are above the industry average.

But behind closed doors, it has struggled to define and implement an ESG strategy, at times painting a rosier-than-reality picture to investors, according to its former sustainability chief and internal emails and presentations seen by The Wall Street Journal.

Covid-19 Vaccine Health Pass Fuels French Protests

French protesters took to the streets for the third consecutive Saturday to protest new restrictions on people unvaccinated against Covid-19, a growing movement that threatens to complicate the country's coronavirus response.

More than 204,000 protesters-many decrying what they called a "health dictatorship" and carrying banners and French flags reading "Freedom!"- marched in cities across France, including Marseille and Lyon, according to estimates from France's interior ministry.

Textbook Publisher Pearson Bets Big on Online Learning

Andy Bird joined education-resource company Pearson PLC as chief executive officer at a time when education was undergoing an upheaval-the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With students around the world suddenly learning from home, the company's online business saw big growth: Enrollment at Pearson's online K-12 schooling offering, Connections Academy, grew by 40%, says Mr. Bird, the former chairman of Walt Disney International.

U.S. Blames Iran for Drone Attack on Israeli-Linked Tanker

The U.S. joined the U.K. and Israel Sunday in blaming Iran for a fatal drone strike last week on an Israeli-linked tanker near the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, and the U.S. said it would work with allies to develop a response to the incident.

The statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken marked unusually blunt language from the Biden administration, particularly as it is also seeking to revive a nuclear deal with Iran.

Belarusian Olympic Sprinter Seeks Polish Visa After Refusing to Return Home

TOKYO-A Belarusian Olympic athlete here is seeking a Polish visa after she resisted her team's attempts to send her home against her will in the middle of a public dispute, according to a support group for athletes and a Belarusian opposition group.

The International Olympic Committee said Monday that sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was safe and in the hands of authorities in Tokyo. The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, an organization which supports opposition athletes and has been assisting Ms. Tsimanouskaya in Tokyo, as well as the National Anti-Crisis Management, a leading opposition group, later said she is seeking a visa at the Polish embassy in Tokyo.

GLOBAL NEWS

China Caixin Manufacturing PMI Drops to 16-Month Low

A private gauge of China's manufacturing activity in July fell to a post-Covid-19 low as heavy floods, a resurgence in Covid cases and power shortages in some cities weighed on output and new orders.

The Caixin China purchasing managers index dropped to 50.3 in July from 51.3 in June, Caixin Media Co. and researcher Markit said Monday. July's reading was the lowest in the past 16 months, but still held above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

Senators Push to Wrap Up Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill This Week

WASHINGTON-Senators wrapped up the construction of a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill, racing to pass it through the chamber by the end of the week and send it to the House, where its fate is intertwined with a $3.5 trillion package of Democratic priorities.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) kept the Senate open through the weekend in a bid to begin considerations of the bipartisan infrastructure package, $550 billion of which is in addition to expected future federal investments in roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure projects. But lawmakers took much of the weekend to complete the text of the bill, finishing the final text Sunday night. Completion of the text will allow lawmakers to begin the amendment process and move to final passage in the coming days.

European Bonds Rally on Bets on Weak Growth, Inflation

Government bonds in the eurozone have rallied in recent weeks as investors bet on a growing divergence in economic fortunes between slowgrowing Europe and the rest of the world-especially the U.S.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year German bund, slipped to minus 0.454% Monday, near its lowest level in over five months. In May, it had climbed as high as minus 0.108%, according to Tradeweb. Bond yields fall as prices rise.

Economy Week Ahead: Factories, Trade, Employment

The U.S. employment report for July is the focus of this week's economic indicators.

Heavyweight Companies Enjoy Outsize Rewards as Economy Rebounds

Big companies raced ahead during the Covid-19 pandemic, leveraging the changes driven by the deepest business disruption in decades to grab a larger slice of the economic pie.

Now, as the rich world bounces back from the shock, the heavyweights are extending that lead, spending more on investments and acquisitions, snapping up talent, employing big data and leveraging new technologies.

Inflation Is Hot Now, but Investors Are Betting That Won't Last

Investors are betting the inflationary streak that has sent prices of everything from used cars to lumber soaring will fade in the coming years, a reassuring sign for markets struggling to find direction.

Few issues have vexed money managers more this year than inflation. As the global economy has regained its footing, prices for goods and services have risen-in many cases far faster than economists had anticipated. Labor shortages and supply-chain disruptions snarling the global shipping industry have added to inflationary pressures.

Reduction in Fed's Asset Purchases Might Not Spark 'Taper Tantrum'

WASHINGTON-Investors barely reacted last week when Federal Reserve officials signaled they could announce plans to start reducing their bond buying later this year. That was a relief for policy makers eager to avoid a repeat of the market turmoil that erupted in 2013 when the Fed made a similar announcement.

The Fed's next test will come when it outlines a concrete plan for when and how it will scale back, or taper, the asset purchases.

Anthony Fauci Warns on Covid-19 That 'Things Are Going to Get Worse'

The Biden administration's chief medical adviser said he didn't believe the U.S. would return to lockdowns but warned that "things are going to get worse" as a more contagious variant of the coronavirus has led to a surge of new cases.

"We are looking, not I believe, to lockdown but we are looking to some pain and suffering in the future because we are seeing the cases go up," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." He added, "The solution to this is, get vaccinated."

Simone Biles Will Make Dramatic Return to Tokyo Olympics on Balance Beam

TOKYO-Simone Biles will compete in the balance beam final on Tuesday, her sports federation said here, making a high-stakes return a week after she pulled herself out of competition because she didn't feel mentally able to perform safely.

The 24-year-old gymnast, widely regarded as the greatest of all time, has not competed since she withdrew from the team final after a shaky vault in the team final last Tuesday. She has withdrawn from four other finals in the days since then. The balance beam final represents her last chance to come back to competition in the Tokyo Olympics, and to take an individual medal of any color.

Myanmar Rulers Extend State of Emergency

Myanmar's junta leader has pledged to hold democratic elections within two years, extending a state of emergency imposed by the military when it overthrew the country's elected government in February.

Speaking in a televised address on Sunday, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said his State Administration Council is "working as quickly as possible" to prepare for fresh elections after voiding the results of a 2020 vote that dealt a landslide victory to the party of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Senators Push to Wrap Up Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill This Week

WASHINGTON-Senators wrapped up the construction of a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill, racing to pass it through the chamber by the end of the week and send it to the House, where its fate is intertwined with a $3.5 trillion package of Democratic priorities.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) kept the Senate open through the weekend in a bid to begin considerations of the bipartisan infrastructure package, $550 billion of which is in addition to expected future federal investments in roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure projects. But lawmakers took much of the weekend to complete the text of the bill, finishing the final text Sunday night. Completion of the text will allow lawmakers to begin the amendment process and move to final passage in the coming days.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

Write to us at newsletters@dowjones.com

We offer an enhanced version of this briefing that is optimized for viewing on mobile devices and sent directly to your email inbox. If you would like to sign up, please go to https://newsplus.wsj.com/subscriptions.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-02-21 0620ET

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