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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Continue Winning -2-

09/17/2021 | 06:04am EDT

France said Thursday it had killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the Islamic State leader who led the killing of four U.S. servicemen in Niger in 2017 and was the architect of one of the terrorist outfit's most successful franchises following the group's loss of its Middle East territories.

"This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel," French President Emmanuel Macron said, referring to the vast semiarid region south of the Sahara that has become home to some of the world's most deadly jihadist cells.

Without Angela Merkel, Germany's Conservatives Face Possible Election Rout

This is Germany's first general election without Angela Merkel running for chancellor since 2002. For her conservative bloc, it is shaping up as a debacle.

A gaffe-prone new candidate, the popular chancellor's almost complete absence from the campaign, and voter fatigue after 16 years of conservative rule could converge to deliver the bloc's worst national electoral result ever, according to pollsters and analysts.

Surging Energy Prices Close U.K. Factories, Another Bottleneck in a World Full of Them

Soaring natural-gas prices in Britain have prompted U.S. fertilizer maker CF Industries Holdings Inc. to close two U.K. plants, in a sign that Europe's energy crunch is affecting industry as the economy struggles with several other disruptions amid the recovery from the pandemic.

Businesses across Britain are complaining about high energy costs, with some steelmakers forced to halt production for periods during the day as the price of electricity rises almost seven times higher than at the same point last year. Power markets have also jumped in France, the Netherlands and Germany, ahead of anticipated higher demand in the winter.

GLOBAL NEWS

Biden Steps Up Efforts to Advance $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill

WASHINGTON-President Biden is taking a more public role in the negotiations around Democrats' roughly $3.5 trillion social welfare and climate bill, as lawmakers work through thorny policy debates.

At the White House Thursday, he touted proposals to increase taxes on high-income households and U.S. companies to finance the plan, saying, "Big corporations and the super wealthy have to start paying their fair share of taxes."

U.S., China Jockey for Position in Pacific With Moves on Security, Trade

China on Thursday moved quickly to counter an effort by the U.S., U.K. and Australia to contain its ambitions in the Pacific, saying it would apply to join a regional economic pact the U.S. had eschewed, as Washington and Beijing maneuvered for economic and military position in the theater that will define their great power competition.

The U.S. has been amassing a network of alliances, including India and Japan. The latest among the three English-speaking allies will be an effort to provide Australia with nuclear submarines to strengthen deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region, White House officials said. Australia scrapped a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with France as a result, prompting Paris to accuse the three of betrayal.

Fed to Review Financial Trading Rules for Officials

The Federal Reserve is launching a review of its internal rules governing the financial activities of its officials in the wake of news last week that the leaders of the Dallas and Boston regional Fed banks actively traded in financial markets.

"Because the trust of the American people is essential for the Federal Reserve to effectively carry out our important mission, Chair [Jerome] Powell late last week directed Board staff to take a fresh and comprehensive look at the ethics rules around permissible financial holdings and activities by senior Fed officials," a Fed spokesperson said Thursday.

MassMutual Fined for Failing to Oversee GameStop Trader Keith Gill, Others

A Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. subsidiary agreed to pay a $4 million fine to settle an inquiry from Massachusetts securities regulators into the social-media and trading activity of its employees, including well-known GameStop Corp. investor Keith Gill.

Mr. Gill, known as "Roaring Kitty" on YouTube and "DeepF-ingValue" on Reddit, became an Internet folk hero in January, thanks to his prescient bets on GameStop stock. For months leading up to the GameStop trading frenzy in January-during which nonprofessional traders sent the company's shares soaring to a record high-Mr. Gill posted videos and messages discussing why he was putting large sums of money into the stock.

Glynn's Take: Review of RBA Is Something for Post-Covid Era

SYDNEY--Calls for a thorough review of the Reserve Bank of Australia's practices reached fever pitch this week amid suggestions that it is failing in key areas of its policy remit.

It seems that the central bank, which controls interest rates and has deployed unconventional policy to battle the pandemic and avoid recession, is being singled out as the root cause of Australia's economic woes.

Chinese Astronauts Complete Country's Longest Stay in Space, Landing in Gobi Desert

HONG KONG-A trio of Chinese astronauts landed back on Earth on Friday after three months in space, setting a record for the country's longest stay in orbit as China pursues an ambitious space program.

China has marked a number of milestones in space this year, including sending the first component of its space station into orbit in April and the landing of a rover on Mars in May. The three taikonauts, as astronauts are known in China, have been celebrated as the country's space achievements dovetail with an era of heightened nationalism.

World Bank Cancels Flagship 'Doing Business' Report After Investigation

The World Bank canceled a prominent report rating the business environment of the world's countries after an investigation concluded that senior bank management pressured staff to alter data affecting the ranking of China and other nations.

The leaders implicated include then World Bank Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, now managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and then World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Wraps Up First Day in Space

The first all-civilian crew to orbit the Earth traveled nearly six times around the planet during the mission of Elon Musk's company, SpaceX.

The four-person crew aboard the Crew Dragon space capsule made history Wednesday evening when a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-17-21 0603ET

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