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North American Morning Briefing : Stock Futures -2-

08/26/2021 | 06:03am EDT

Kuaishou Technology, a major rival to ByteDance Ltd. that owns a popular short-video platform in China, said it expects tighter regulations to hurt its revenues, adding that it would try to weed out undesirable content that authorities have frowned upon.

The Hong Kong-listed shares of Kuaishou tumbled 10% on Thursday, after the Beijing-based company reported a loss equivalent to $1.1 billion for the second quarter, which ended in June.

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U.S. Authorities Probing Deutsche Bank's DWS Over Sustainability Claims

U.S. authorities are investigating Deutsche Bank AG's asset-management arm, DWS Group, after the firm's former head of sustainability said it overstated how much it used sustainable investing criteria to manage its assets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The probes, by the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors, are in early stages, the people said. Authorities' examination of DWS comes after The Wall Street Journal reported that the $1 trillion asset manager overstated its sustainable-investing efforts. The Journal, citing documents and the firm's former sustainability chief, said the firm struggled with its strategy on environmental, social and governance investing and at times painted a rosier-than-reality picture to investors.

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Microsoft Hires Former Top Amazon Cloud Executive, Adding to Rivalry

Microsoft Corp. hired a top Amazon.com Inc. cloud veteran and ally of Chief Executive Andy Jassy, according to a company document, in a rare jump of a senior executive between the cloud-computing industry's leading rivals.

Charlie Bell, who left Amazon Web Services recently, is now listed by Microsoft as a corporate vice president, according to an internal employee register viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Bell was a senior vice president at Amazon Web Services, as the company's cloud-computing arm is known, and for years worked with Mr. Jassy, then the AWS boss, to build up the cloud-computing business.

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Western Digital in Advanced Talks to Merge With Kioxia in $20 Billion-Plus Deal

Western Digital Corp. is in advanced talks to merge with Japan's Kioxia Holdings Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal that could be valued at more than $20 billion and further reorder the global chip industry.

Long-running discussions between the companies have heated up in the past few weeks and they could reach agreement on a deal as early as mid-September, the people said. Western Digital would pay for the deal with stock and the combined company would likely be run by its Chief Executive, David Goeckeler, the people said.

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Salesforce Sales Jump on Pandemic-Fueled Demand for Cloud Services

Salesforce.com Inc. reported a boost in quarterly sales and again lifted its full-year outlook in a sign that companies continue their bet on cloud computing for business applications as the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads.

The business-software provider has been one of the big beneficiaries of the pandemic, as companies embraced the kind of cloud-based enterprise tools Salesforce offers to connect users with customers and staff.

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Takeda Suspends Use of 1.6 Million Moderna Vaccine Doses in Japan

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said Thursday that it had suspended the use of 1.6 million doses of Moderna Inc.'s Covid-19 vaccine in Japan due to reports of contamination.

Takeda, which distributes the vaccine in Japan, said it has asked Moderna investigate the issue reported at multiple vaccination sites.

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ESPN Takes Rachel Nichols Off NBA Coverage, Cancels Her Show

ESPN removed Rachel Nichols from its National Basketball Association coverage and canceled her show, a decision that comes a month after a report surfaced in which she criticized a colleague's role at the network.

The network said Wednesday that Ms. Nichols would no longer report from the sidelines of NBA games. Her weekday afternoon show, "The Jump," would also be canceled, ESPN said.

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Jobless Claims Likely Held Near Pandemic Low, Despite Delta Variant

Jobless claims likely held near a pandemic low last week, a sign the job-market recovery remains on sound footing despite uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate that the Labor Department will report that unemployment claims were 350,000 last week, nearly the same as 348,000 a week earlier, the lowest level for claims since March 2020.

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Delta Variant's Spread Clouds Outlook for Emerging-Market Debt

The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 across Asia is weighing on emerging-market debt in the region.

In recent months, investors have been demanding higher returns on bonds from Southeast Asian nations with relatively low vaccination rates that have reported sharp increases in Covid-19 cases. Governments in the region have imposed fresh lockdowns or social-distancing restrictions that are slowing their economic recoveries, and are spending more to help their citizens and businesses.

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Derby's Take: Economists Don't Expect Powell Taper Announcement This Week

It's pretty unlikely Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will announce in his speech Friday that the central bank is officially ready to start pulling back on its asset-buying stimulus effort, economists reckon.

Mr. Powell is set to speak on Friday at 10 a.m. ET as part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual Jackson Hole economic symposium. The event was moved last week to an all-online format because of the rising risks around the coronavirus pandemic.

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Bank of Korea Raises Rate After 15 Months at Record Low

South Korea's central bank raised its base interest rate on Thursday after 15 months of keeping it at a record low, signaling it would further dial back its easy-money policy amid an economic recovery.

The rate increase makes the Bank of Korea the first major central bank in Asia to start withdrawing stimulus measures that were put in place because of the pandemic.

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German Consumer Confidence Is Expected to Wane in September on Covid-19 and Inflation Fears

Consumer sentiment in Germany is expected to weaken in September compared with the previous month as a rise in Covid-19 cases and inflation sour households' mood, according to data from the market-research group GfK released Thursday.

GfK's forward-looking consumer sentiment index sees confidence among households declining to minus 1.2 points in September from minus 0.4 points in August. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal forecast a smaller drop, expecting sentiment to decline to minus 0.8 points.

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El Salvador Gets Ready for a Risky Bitcoin Experiment

In less than two weeks, El Salvador will become the first country to adopt bitcoin as a national currency. No one knows what comes next.

The government of the impoverished Central American nation aims to spend up to $75 million as part of a plan to hand out $30 to people who sign up to an e-wallet called Chivo, or "Cool." That software-based system would allow an estimated 2.5 million Salvadorans to buy goods or pay for services in U.S. dollars or bitcoin, El Salvador's two official currencies as of Sept 7.

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As Delta Variant Surges, So Does Demand for At-Home Covid-19 Tests

Demand for at-home Covid-19 tests has risen sharply in recent weeks as the Delta variant surges across the U.S., causing test makers to scramble to keep pace.

Abbott Laboratories said it expects supplies of its at-home test to be limited in the next few weeks as it hires workers and reboots factory lines that were slowed or idled earlier this summer. Availability on Amazon.com of Abbott's BinaxNOW test and a similar test made by Quidel Corp. has been spotty, and an at-home test made by Ellume USA LLC was out of stock as of Wednesday. The tests, which detect fragments of viral proteins called antigens, can be found with patchy access on store shelves and websites.

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Humanitarian Efforts in Afghanistan Get OK From Treasury, Bypassing Sanctions on Taliban

The U.S. Treasury Department has given humanitarian organizations a green light to provide aid to Afghanistan, easing concerns that antiterrorism sanctions on the Taliban could prevent the country from getting the food and other supplies it needs to stem a growing economic crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.

Treasury's nod, which came in private conversations this week, is a response to pressure from aid groups and banks eager for assurance they won't be punished for undertaking humanitarian relief or handling the associated financial transactions. It is unclear whether the informal guidance has fully addressed their concerns, as prominent coalitions of aid groups have asked the Treasury Department to issue formal waivers.

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Europeans Are Flying Again, Just as Americans Pull Back

LONDON-European air travel is finally returning, thanks to a barrage of cheap tickets from discount carriers and the relatively smooth rollout of a continentwide vaccination-certification system.

Until just recently, U.S. and China domestic air-travel markets have been booming, with passengers taking advantage of what had been a fall in Covid-19 cases in both places. In the U.S., a robust vaccination drive also boosted traveler confidence.

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U.S. Covid-19 Hospitalizations Nearly Doubled in August as Some States Ask for Resources

U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations have surpassed 100,000 for the first time since January, nearly doubling since the start of August.

While the figure remains below the country's winter peak, hospitals in some parts of the U.S. are straining under the load, and officials in states including Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Idaho have requested extra personnel and resources.

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Write to paul.larkins@wsj.com

TODAY IN CANADA

Earnings:

Canadn Imp Bank of Comm 3Q

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

08-26-21 0602ET

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