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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Drift as -3-

10/20/2021 | 05:53am EST

Consumer prices rose 3.1% on the year in September, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday, slightly slower than the 3.2% rise recorded in August.

Chinese Coal Companies Fall as Beijing Signals Intervention

Shares of Chinese coal companies were weaker Wednesday after Beijing said it would intervene to boost coal supply and cool prices in the wake of shortages that have forced blackouts in parts of the country and weighed on economic growth.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Yanzhou Coal Mining dropped 10%, China Coal Energy lost 9.9% and China Shenhua Energy fell 4.8% on concerns that lower coal prices could weigh on revenues. The companies' Shanghai-listed shares fell by 10%, 9.9% and 6.7%, respectively, by the midday break.

China PBOC Keeps Loan Prime Rate Unchanged

China's central bank kept its benchmark loan prime rate unchanged on Wednesday.

The one-year LPR remained at 3.85% and five-year LPR at 4.65%, the bank said.

China's New Home Prices Fall for First Time in Six Years as Rules Bite

BEIJING-New home prices in China fell on a monthly basis for the first time in more than six years in September, new official data showed, as Beijing's measures to curb housing speculation and cool the property sector begin to bite.

Average new home prices in 70 major cities edged down 0.08% in September from the previous month, China's National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. Though small, it is the first such month-on-month decline since March 2015, and follows August's 0.16% increase.

Waller: If Inflation Doesn't Cool by Year-End, Fed Could Bring Rate Increases Forward

Federal Reserve Gov. Christopher Waller said the central bank could move forward the timeline for raising short-term interest rates to restore price stability if high levels of inflation don't start cooling soon, adding that he supports the Fed slowing its asset buying stimulus effort starting next month.

Mr. Waller said in a virtual appearance Tuesday that when it comes to moving up what is now a near zero federal-funds rate target range, "the pace of continued improvement in the labor market will be gradual, and I expect inflation will moderate, which means liftoff is still some time off." But he also said there is some amount of flux in the path forward for interest rate policy amid unexpectedly high inflation readings.

U.S. Lawmakers Turn Spotlight on Private Equity

U.S. lawmakers this week will subject the private-equity industry to fresh scrutiny over its practices, and some members of Congress plan to revive a bill to increase federal regulation of buyout firms.

A group of lawmakers led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) plans this week to reintroduce a modified version of the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, a two-year-old proposal to rein in the private-equity industry, according to people familiar with the matter.

First Bitcoin Futures ETF Rises in Trading Debut

The first bitcoin-focused exchange-traded fund rose in its trading debut Tuesday after getting a warm reception from investors.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF climbed most of the day, gaining nearly 5% to settle at $41.94. About $981 million of shares changed hands over the session, making it the second-most highly-traded ETF debut ever, according to Elisabeth Kashner, director of ETF research at FactSet.

Covid-19 Safety Fight Heats Up Between Biden Administration and States

The Labor Department is moving to strip three Republican-led states of workplace safety oversight, saying they have failed to adopt more-rigorous Covid-19 safety standards. It is the latest development in a fight between the Biden administration and some states over federal coronavirus rules.

Officials at the Labor Department said Tuesday that it is starting the process of revoking state-level oversight of workforce-safety programs in Utah, Arizona and South Carolina. The federal government said it began taking steps after the three states didn't adopt, at minimum, the federal Covid-19 safety plans for healthcare workers, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the Labor Department, released in June.

Congress Is Losing Patience With Big-Tech Resistance, Klobuchar Says

WASHINGTON-Congress is growing impatient with big technology companies for resisting legislative remedies aimed at addressing social harms from internet platforms, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Tuesday.

"Every single thing we propose, they are against," Ms. Klobuchar (D., Minn.) said at The Wall Street Journal's Tech Live conference. "The more that time goes on, I'm not the only one that starts wondering if we should not just have the narrow changes" and start aiming for more ambitious legislation, she said.

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

10-20-21 0552ET

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