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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Weaken as -2-

10/01/2021 | 04:24am EST

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that Jacqueline Hunt was in talks to depart. Ms. Hunt will be succeeded as of Friday and will serve as a consultant to Chief Executive Oliver Bäte going forward, the company said.

Big U.S. Trial to Boost AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Hopes

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University showed 74% efficacy at preventing symptomatic illness in a large, late-stage trial conducted in the U.S., Chile and Peru, according to data published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine

The Phase 3 trial involved 32,451 participants and sought to determine the vaccine's efficacy in preventing symptomatic illness measured 15 days after the second dose. The trial was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health.

BMW Raises FY Guidance for Earnings Metrics

BMW AG raised its outlook for certain earnings metrics for the financial year 2021, predicting higher vehicle prices would outweigh the chip shortage.

The German auto maker expects its Ebit margin for its automotive segment to be between 9.5% and 10.5%, up from its previous forecast of 7% to 9%.

Germany Retail Sales Rose in August

Retail sales in Germany increased in August thanks to the easing of coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions.

Retail sales increased by a price-adjusted 1.1% on month in August, data from the country's statistics agency Destatis showed Friday. This follows a revised 4.5% fall in July.

Leoni to Sell Industrial-Solutions Business

Leoni AG said Friday that it is about to sell its industrial-solutions business to BizLink Holding Inc. for an enterprise value of around 450 million euros ($520.9 million), subject to the buyer's board approval.

The German wiring-systems maker said it expects cash inflow of more than EUR300 million after deducting costs like pension charges and that the transaction would help improve its financial position.

ING Launches EUR1.74 Bln Share Buyback Program

ING Groep NV said Friday that it is launching a share buyback program of up to 1.74 billion euro ($2.01 billion).

The Dutch lender said the program will start on Oct. 5 and is expected to end by May 5, 2022.

Some of Private Equity's Biggest Players Create ESG Standards

A group of major private-equity investors and managers has teamed up to try to fix how the industry measures and reports its environmental, social and governance performance.

The group, collectively representing more than $4 trillion in assets under management, has agreed on what it expects will become the first standardized set of ESG reporting metrics for the private-equity industry.

GLOBAL NEWS

U.S. Consumers Likely Ramped Up Spending in August

Consumer spending likely picked up in August, a sign the U.S. economic recovery is gaining steam heading into the fall.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect the Commerce Department to report Friday that consumer spending in August rose 0.7% from a month earlier after a 0.3% rise in July.

Democrats Delay Infrastructure Vote as Talks Fail to Reach Deal

WASHINGTON-House Democrats dropped plans to vote on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill Thursday night, as they came up short on reaching agreement around a separate social policy and climate package they hope will unite the party's dueling factions.

Key lawmakers said they were making progress toward a framework mapping out the overall level of spending and central planks of the healthcare, education and climate package, but that the discussions required more time.

Powell Says Fed Faces 'Difficult Trade-Off' if Inflation Doesn't Moderate

WASHINGTON-Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers Thursday that the central bank still expects a recent spell of high inflation to reverse but said it was difficult to pinpoint when that might happen.

A surge in prices this year "is a function of supply-side bottlenecks over which we have no control," Mr. Powell said at a House Financial Services Committee hearing, where he appeared alongside Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Bill Averting Government Shutdown Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON-President Biden signed a bill Thursday evening extending government funding through Dec. 3, averting a partial shutdown hours before current funding expires at midnight.

The bill passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support earlier in the day. The legislation, which also includes $28.6 billion in emergency disaster aid and $6.3 billion to help resettle Afghan evacuees, passed 65-35 in the Senate, and 254 to 175 a few hours later in the House.

North Korea Tests Surface-to-Air Missile

SEOUL-North Korea said it had successfully tested a new antiaircraft missile, state media reported, as Pyongyang embarks on a long-term weapons strategy aimed at countering military threats from Washington and Seoul.

Kim Jong Un wasn't reported to have attended the Thursday launch, North Korea's fourth weapons test in recent weeks. But a day earlier, Mr. Kim, in a policy speech to his rubber-stamp legislature, had praised the country's weapons scientists for developing "ultramodern weapons" at "an extremely fast speed."

Australia to End Travel Ban in Pivot to Living With Covid-19

SYDNEY-Australia plans to start reopening its international border in November, ending one of the world's strictest pandemic-era travel bans as authorities pivot from trying to suppress Covid-19 to living with it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said travel restrictions would be dropped for fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents, who would be able to leave and return to the country without seeking permission as is required now. They will also be allowed to quarantine at home for seven days, while current rules require returning travelers to pay thousands of dollars to quarantine at government-run hotels or camps for two weeks.

Chinese Citizen Journalist Who Documented Covid-19 in Wuhan Resurfaces After 600 Days

SINGAPORE-A Chinese citizen journalist whose viral videos offered an unfiltered early glimpse of the Covid-19 outbreak as it consumed the city of Wuhan has resurfaced more than 600 days after he went missing.

Chen Qiushi, a lawyer and self-styled citizen journalist, disappeared in February 2020 after he had spent roughly two weeks at the epicenter of what would later become a pandemic, publishing videos that were often wrenching in their portrayal of the fear and confusion that gripped the locked-down city of 11 million. Mr. Chen's friends and family have said that they believe he was forcibly quarantined by state security officials, despite displaying no symptoms of illness.

Deaths Raise Safety Concerns Around Gene Therapy

Safety scares, including deaths of several young study subjects, have set back efforts to bring more gene therapies to market, clouding one of biotech's most promising technologies and hottest sectors.

Gene therapy, which replaces defective genes, promises to deliver one-time treatment for inherited diseases. Two treatments are approved for use, while dozens are in development.

Write to paul.larkins@dowjones.com

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-01-21 0624ET

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