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North American Morning Briefing: Dow Wobbles, -2-

01/21/2022 | 06:16am EDT

BrightGene Bio-Medical Technology Co. hit the maximum 20% daily rise on Shanghai's science- and tech-focused STAR board, while Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co.'s A-shares rose as much as 10% on Friday. Fosun Pharma's H-shares jumped 13% in early trading but have since pared gains to trade 3.5% higher.

China's Transport Ministry Summons Freight-Delivery Platforms, Warns Ride-Hailing Firms

China's Ministry of Transport has summoned four leading freight-delivery platform operators and warned four internet ride-hailing companies over recent driver complaints, in a sign of Beijing's continued scrutiny of the country's massive tech sector after a year-long crackdown.

The ministry on Friday said it has summoned four internet freight delivery firms, including the cargo businesses owned by DiDi Global Inc. and Inc., to discuss recent driver complaints about arbitrary pricing rules, membership fee increases, unfair competition and illegal practices such as overloading.

Peloton Warns Staff of Layoffs, Changes to Production

Peloton Interactive Inc.'s chief executive officer said the company is reviewing the size of its workforce and resetting production levels as the company adapts to more seasonal demand for its exercise equipment.

A note from CEO John Foley was sent to Peloton employees Thursday following a news report that Peloton was temporarily halting production of its connected-fitness products. The report caused shares of the company to sink 24%.

Netflix Shares Sink as Company Sees Subscriber Growth Slowing

Netflix Inc. said it expects to add a much smaller number of subscribers this quarter than it did a year ago as it adjusts to growing competition and lasting disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic, sending the video streamer's shares down sharply.

The company on Thursday forecast an increase of 2.5 million subscribers in the current quarter, compared with four million a year earlier. It also slightly missed its subscriber estimate for the fourth quarter, adding 8.3 million subscribers instead of the projected 8.5 million.

China's Yield Advantage Over U.S. Bonds Narrows

The extra yield that Chinese government bonds offer over U.S. Treasurys this week dropped below a percentage point for the first time in nearly three years, as the central banks of the world's two largest economies move in opposite directions.

The narrowing gap, reflecting both a rally in Chinese bonds and a U.S. selloff, reduces one longstanding argument in favor of foreign investors buying more Chinese debt. But analysts and investors say the long-term torrent of international money pouring into Chinese fixed-income markets is likely to continue.

The SPAC Ship is Sinking. Investors Want Their Money Back.

Wall Street's favorite pandemic bet is taking on water.

SPACs, or special-purpose acquisition companies, burst onto the scene in 2020 as the hip way to take Silicon Valley's hottest startups public. Unlike traditional initial public offerings, SPACs were seen as modern and accessible, allowing any investor to put money into the companies of the future at the same time as professional money managers.

Investors See New Sparkle in Europe's Tech Scene

Europe's tech scene has struggled to emerge from the shadows of giants in the U.S. and Asia, but friendly local policies and a global overflow of investment capital are now giving the region a gusher of cash.

Investments in European tech firms soared to $93.3 billion last year, a record and a 142% increase over the year before, according to CB Insights. The number of deals jumped as well, to 7,051 from 5,746 the year before and 6,051 the year before that.

Americans Should Pay More for Gas, not Less

They are a jalopy badly in need of repairs, but America's fuel-economy rules have been rolling along since 1975, burning more oil and spewing more pollution than their builders intended. Still, when it comes to one of the few roadworthy policies available, a tuneup makes more sense than a trip to the scrap heap.

Many economists will tell you that higher gas taxes make more sense than forcing car makers to sell more efficient vehicles, and they are right. Politics is the art of the possible, though. Last month, the Biden administration tightened up the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that the Trump administration had loosened. Unfortunately, CAFE's design flaws remain: Auto makers selling larger cars face less stringent targets than those selling smaller ones. That difference is generally even wider between passenger cars and light trucks-a category that actually includes larger crossovers and some SUVs, such as Toyota Rav4, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape. The discrepancy mattered less in the 1970s when most people drove normal passenger cars.

Eurozone Inflation Seen Falling in 2022, But More Slowly Than Expected

Eurozone inflation climbed to a record-high level of 5.0% in December but should start decelerating from January. However, more persistent supply-side price pressures observed in energy, food and non-energy goods suggest a very gradual inflation moderation in 2022, Barclays says.

For Barclays, the eurozone inflation outlook remains uncertain with risks skewed to the upside. The surge in wholesale energy prices has so far mainly boosted inflation in counties with a relatively high share of variable-rate utility tariffs in the overall consumer bill, such as Spain and Belgium. This leaves countries with a larger share of regulated and fixed-rate utility tariffs--including Germany, France and Italy--exposed to delayed, and potentially sharp, consumer price hikes.

U.K. Retail Sales Slumped in December as Omicron Cases Raged

U.K. retail sales sank in December, sharply missing analysts' forecasts, as the nation witnessed surging Covid-19 cases and tightened social-distancing guidance.

Retail sales volumes dropped 3.7% from a month earlier, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a more modest decline of 0.6%.

Fed Launches Review of Possible Central Bank Digital Currency

WASHINGTON-The Federal Reserve on Thursday launched a review of the potential benefits and risks of issuing a U.S. digital currency, as central banks around the world experiment with the potential new form of money to keep pace with private-sector payments innovations.

Fed officials have been divided on the matter, making it unlikely they will decide soon on whether to create a digital dollar. Unlike private cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, a Fed version would be issued by and backed by the U.S. central bank, a government entity, as are U.S. paper dollar bills and coins.

Why Omicron's Milder Infections Are Straining U.S. Hospitals

The fast-spreading Omicron variant has fueled a rise in Covid-19 cases to levels far beyond any recorded in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. But there is a growing body of evidence that infections from the Omicron variant are less severe than previous variants. So why are hospitals in some parts of the country stretched to capacity?

A preliminary study released last week, conducted by Kaiser Permanente and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed "substantially reduced risk of severe clinical outcomes in patients who are infected with the Omicron variant compared with Delta," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC. The study by Kaiser, a California-based hospital and health-insurance company, examined nearly 70,000 Covid-19 cases in Southern California from Nov. 30 to Jan. 1. It found rates of hospitalization, admission to intensive-care units, mechanical ventilation and death were all substantially lower in patients infected with Omicron. Hospital stays were also shorter.

Blinken to Meet Russia's Foreign Minister Amid Ukraine Border Crisis

KYIV, Ukraine-As Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares for a high-stakes meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Friday, Ukraine's foreign minister warned that his country's soldiers and civilians could "pay with their blood" for any delays to a sanctions package that could be imposed on Moscow immediately should it choose to invade.

The meeting in Geneva follows a string of meetings Mr. Blinken's deputy, Wendy Sherman, held earlier this month with European allies and her Russian counterpart at NATO's headquarters, followed by more gatherings Mr. Blinken held this week in Kyiv and Berlin.

Afghans Housed at Military Base in Kosovo Risk Being Denied Entry to U.S. for Alleged Terrorist Ties

WASHINGTON-Afghan evacuees housed on a U.S. military base in Kosovo are at risk of being denied entry to the U.S. because of their alleged links to the Taliban and other terrorist groups, U.S. officials have said, potentially leaving them without a home country.

Fewer than 10 Afghans have been declared ineligible for entry after security officials found disqualifying information about them during an extensive vetting process, according to a person familiar with the issue. About 90 other individuals continue to be vetted at the Camp Bondsteel base in Kosovo, according to administration officials.

Biden Seeks to Reassure Ukraine, Vowing a Strong Response to Russia and Transferring Weapons

President Biden said Thursday that any Russian troop movement into Ukraine would be considered an invasion, seeking to clear up confusion over his position on a potential incursion as the administration gave approval for U.S.-made weapons to be transferred to Kyiv.

"I've been absolutely clear with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin. He has no misunderstanding," Mr. Biden said at a White House event. "If any-any-assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion."

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01-21-22 0615ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (AUD/USD) -0.24% 0.68871 Delayed Quote.-4.68%
BARCLAYS PLC -2.04% 156.76 Delayed Quote.-14.37%
BITCOIN (BTC/EUR) -1.64% 19252 End-of-day quote.-54.20%
BITCOIN (BTC/USD) -2.25% 20252 End-of-day quote.-57.58%
BRITISH POUND / US DOLLAR (GBP/USD) -0.30% 1.21502 Delayed Quote.-9.34%
CANADIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (CAD/USD) 0.05% 0.77702 Delayed Quote.-1.79%
DIDI GLOBAL INC. 2.55% 3.095 Delayed Quote.-39.36%
EURO / US DOLLAR (EUR/USD) -0.46% 1.04733 Delayed Quote.-6.95%
INDIAN RUPEE / US DOLLAR (INR/USD) 0.09% 0.012674 Delayed Quote.-5.04%
LONDON BRENT OIL -0.18% 117.87 Delayed Quote.51.70%
NETFLIX, INC. -1.65% 176.655 Delayed Quote.-70.19%
NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (NZD/USD) -0.18% 0.6225 Delayed Quote.-7.96%
PELOTON INTERACTIVE, INC. -6.69% 9.2 Delayed Quote.-72.43%
S&P 500 -0.51% 3801.54 Real-time Quote.-19.82%
TOYOTA INDUSTRIES CORPORATION -0.71% 8370 Delayed Quote.-8.27%
US DOLLAR / RUSSIAN ROUBLE (USD/RUB) -1.18% 52.375 Delayed Quote.-29.14%
WTI -0.12% 111.824 Delayed Quote.46.36%
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