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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Buoyed by -2-

07/21/2021 | 06:20am EDT

Telia Co. AB on Wednesday backed full-year guidance and said plans are in place to sharply reduce costs in the coming months.

The Swedish telecommunications operator said it made a net profit of 8.07 billion Swedish kronor ($927.4 million), compared with a loss of SEK2.05 billion a year earlier, with earnings this year boosted by a SEK9.45 billion disposal.

Julius Baer 1H Net Profit Rose on Asset Growth, Better Cost Ratio

Julius Baer Gruppe AG said Wednesday that net profit rose in the first half of the year on strong growth in assets under management and cost improvements.

The Swiss private banking group said net profit in the period was 23% higher at 606 million Swiss francs ($714 million). On an adjusted basis, net profit was CHF636.3 million.

Iberdrola 1H Net Profit Fell

Iberdrola SA said Wednesday that net profit fell in the first half of the year as results still suffer the hit from the coronavirus pandemic, but to a lesser extent.

The Spanish utility company said net profit came in at 1.53 billion euros ($1.80 billion) in the period compared with EUR1.88 billion for the same period a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, net profit was EUR1.84 billion.

Rio Tinto, Bougainville Residents Strike Deal to Assess Impact of Closed Mine

SYDNEY--Rio Tinto PLC said it has reached an agreement with residents of Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, to assess the legacy impact of the Panguna copper mine that it offloaded in 2016 and has been closed for more than three decades.

The company said a joint committee of stakeholders will be established to oversee a detailed independent assessment of Panguna, which Rio Tinto said it wasn't able to access since operations were suspended due to an uprising against the mine.

Talking Markets: ECB Meeting Could Be Decisive Due to New Inflation Target

The European Central Bank's new inflation target set out in its recent strategy review could turn what would otherwise have been a low-profile monetary policy meeting this Thursday into a very significant one, analysts say.

"The July meeting was never expected to matter much, but following the strategy review could turn out to be a decisive milestone," said Peter Schaffrik, global macro strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

GLOBAL NEWS

Carlyle Launches Renewable-Energy Infrastructure Unit

Private-equity giant Carlyle Group Inc. is launching a company to develop renewable-power-generation and storage projects in a push to reorient its energy business toward sustainable investments.

Funds Carlyle operates will inject as much as $700 million in the new venture, Copia Power, enabling it to arrange projects worth over $6 billion, according to Pooja Goyal, Carlyle's co-head of infrastructure and head of renewable and sustainable energy. Copia will focus on developing large-scale solar generation projects and battery facilities to store power and distribute it after sunset.

Bond Rally Undercuts Inflation Fears

The monthslong decline in bond yields exemplifies investors' belief that inflation likely isn't the biggest problem facing the U.S. and global economy.

Monday's sharp selloff in major U.S. stock indexes highlighted investors' mounting concern that the biggest risk to markets right now is underwhelming growth, rather than the runaway price increases feared earlier in the year. At the same time, many investors think inflation readings may run hot for some period, then subside on their own or lead the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and slow the recovery.

Fed Chair Powell Enjoys Support For Reappointment, but He's Not a Lock

President Biden's selection of the next Federal Reserve chair is likely to be a choice between keeping the current chief, who enjoys broad support in markets and among lawmakers from both parties, or replacing him with one of his well-regarded colleagues.

Chairman Jerome Powell, whose term expires in February, is viewed by some inside and many outside the administration as the front-runner for the job. But if Mr. Biden decides he would prefer his own pick, rather than the Republican chosen by President Trump, Fed governor Lael Brainard is the most likely candidate to succeed him.

Infrastructure Vote Approaches Without Final Agreement in Place

WASHINGTON-The Senate barreled toward a pair of Wednesday deadlines for advancing much of President Biden's multitrillion-dollar economic agenda, with lawmakers bracing for a procedural vote on a still-forming $1 trillion infrastructure plan to fail as bipartisan negotiations dragged on.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has set a vote for Wednesday to begin consideration of infrastructure legislation, a step that Republicans have said they would oppose absent more details on its contents and how it would be paid for.

U.S.-German Deal on Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Expected Soon

The U.S. and Germany have reached an agreement allowing the completion of a controversial Russian natural-gas pipeline, according to officials from Berlin and Washington, who expect to announce the deal as soon as Wednesday, bringing an end to years of tension between the two allies.

The Biden administration will effectively waive Washington's longstanding opposition to the pipeline, Nord Stream 2, a change in the U.S. stance, ending years of speculation over the fate of the project, which has come to dominate European energy-sector forecasts. Germany under the agreement will agree to assist Ukraine in energy-related projects and diplomacy.

Crypto Exchange FTX Valued at $18 Billion in Funding Round

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX has raised money at an $18 billion valuation, a deal that shows investors' enthusiasm for digital currencies even after a crash that erased half of bitcoin's value over the past three months.

FTX raised $900 million in a new funding round that closed Tuesday. Participants in the round included Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group Corp., Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital and Third Point, the hedge fund led by billionaire Daniel Loeb, FTX said.

Japan Aims to Double Renewable Energy Over Next Decade

Japan is proposing to double the share of solar and other renewable energy in its power grid and slash the share of fossil fuels to less than half during the next decade, as the world's third-largest economy becomes the latest to unveil ambitious plans to remake its energy system.

The targets appear in a draft of Japan's latest national energy strategy unveiled Wednesday. They incorporate a huge jump in carbon-cutting goals, reflecting an increased international sense of urgency around climate change. The draft calls for an ambitious reboot of Japan's nuclear fleet-the bulk of which is still offline after the country's nuclear meltdowns in 2011. It also proposes building a hydrogen supply chain and includes the fuel for the first time in its proposed energy mix.

Haiti Inaugurates New Leader Two Weeks After President's Assassination

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti-Ariel Henry, a prominent neurosurgeon backed by the U.S., became Haiti's new prime minister Tuesday, as it began official ceremonies to mourn assassinated President Jovenel Moïse, and police widened the list of suspects in his killing.

Dr. Henry was inaugurated to lead the embattled Caribbean nation as it struggles to form a new government and tame mounting civil unrest.

U.S. Life Expectancy Fell by 1.5 Years in 2020, the Biggest Decline in Generations

Life expectancy in the U.S. fell by 1.5 years in 2020, the biggest decline since at least World War II, as the Covid-19 pandemic killed hundreds of thousands and exacerbated crises in drug overdoses, homicides and some chronic diseases.

Provisional data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that American life expectancy dropped to 77.3 years in 2020, roughly the same level as in 2003, erasing years of hard-won gains in the nation's public health. It was the largest single-year decline recorded since 1943. It isn't entirely clear what caused the drop that year, when the U.S. was fighting World War II.

Floods in China's Zhengzhou Kill at Least a Dozen People, Force 100,000 From Their Homes

Record rainfall in central China caused severe floods that have claimed at least a dozen lives, turned city streets into gushing rivers and forced authorities to relocate some 100,000 people and mobilize troops to save dams on the brink of collapse.

Henan province has been pelted by heavy rains since Saturday, with its capital of Zhengzhou among the worst-hit areas. Local news reports and social-media posts showed inundated neighborhoods, submerged cars, residents stranded in schools and workplaces, and flooded subways with commuters standing in water up to chest-deep.

Australia's Brisbane to Host 2032 Summer Olympics

TOKYO-The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday awarded the 2032 Summer Games to Brisbane, Australia, after designating the city earlier this year as the sole contender.

Brisbane will become the third Australian city to host the Games after Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.

Local Health Authorities Seek to Curb Delta Variant Without New Rules

Local health authorities in hot spots around the U.S. are seeking to blunt the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 by trying to boost stagnating vaccination rates while largely stopping short of reinstituting rules and restrictions.

During previous surges, state and local leaders attempted a variety of approaches to slow infections. They instituted mask mandates, shut down public spaces and ordered businesses to close or run at limited capacity, in efforts to buy time until vaccines arrived.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

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07-21-21 0619ET

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