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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING - Stocks Flat as Oil -2-

11/18/2021 | 06:35am EST

AstraZeneca Says Trials on Covid-19 Treatment Confirm Efficacy, Long-Term Prevention

AstraZeneca PLC said Thursday that Phase 3 trials on its AZD7442 antibody combination confirmed that the treatment reduces risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19.

The pharmaceutical company said the analysis of its continuing trial evaluating a median six months of participant follow-up revealed that one dose of AZD7442 showed 83% reduced symptomatic Covid-19 risk and no severe disease or deaths.

Vallourec Downbeat on 2021 Outlook, Shares Fall

Vallourec SA shares traded sharply lower Thursday after the company struck a downbeat note on its 2021 outlook amid falling iron ore prices and said it will sell its German assets after failing to turn around the business.

The French tubular-products manufacturer said late Wednesday that its third-quarter net loss narrowed to 7 million euros ($7.9 million) compared with a EUR69 million loss a year earlier, and that revenue rose 16%.

Investec 1H Net Profit More-Than Doubled; Raises FY 2022 Guidance

Investec PLC on Thursday reported a more-than doubled net profit for the first half of fiscal 2022 as it booked lower impairment charges, and raised its guidance for the full year.

The London- and Johannesburg-listed financial-services company made a net profit of the half year ended Sept. 30 of 249.6 million pounds ($336.7 million) compared with GBP108.8 million for the first half of fiscal 2021.

Holcim Sets out 2025 Targets

Holcim Ltd. has unveiled new financial and sustainability goals as part of its 2025 strategy.

The Swiss construction-materials maker said Thursday that its solutions and products business would contribute 30% of group sales, building on the acquisition of Firestone Building Products.

Aker Horizons, Hanwha Solutions and REC Silicon Seek US Solar Expansion

Aker Horizons ASA said Thursday that its Aker Horizons Holding AS subsidiary has entered an agreement with South Korean solar photovoltaic manufacturer Hanwha Solutions Corporation and REC Silicon ASA as the companies aim to expand the solar industry in the U.S.

The deal involves Hanwha Solutions acquiring 21.9 million shares in REC Silicon from Aker Horizons while also subscribing for 48.2 million new shares in REC Silicon through a private placement.

Flutter Entertainment Buys Online Bingo Operator Tombola for GBP402 Mln

Flutter Entertainment PLC said Thursday that it has bought U.K. online bingo operator Tombola for 402 million pounds ($542.3 million).

The Dublin-based gambling group said the deal enhances its online-gaming presence in its core U.K. market at an attractive valuation.

Turkey's Lira Slides to Historic Low Ahead of Central Bank Meeting

ISTANBUL-Turkey's currency sank to a historic low against the dollar on Thursday as investors fled the lira in anticipation of a central-bank decision to cut interest rates demanded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The lira dropped to 10.97 against the dollar early Thursday morning before rebounding to 10.66. The currency has lost nearly 8% of its value since Monday as Mr. Erdogan reiterated a demand for lower interest rates as a part of his unorthodox strategy to spur economic growth.

Iran's Stockpile of Near-Weapons-Grade Nuclear Fuel Grows, U.N. Finds

Iran's stockpile of near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel has jumped significantly, according to a confidential report by the United Nations atomic agency that found Tehran has almost doubled its output of highly enriched uranium in recent months, putting it closer to being able to produce the fuel needed for a nuclear weapon.

Iran had a stockpile of 17.7 kilograms (39 pounds) of 60% enriched uranium-its highest purity output so far-in early November, up from 10 kilograms in late August, meaning it is getting closer to having enough highly enriched nuclear fuel for a weapon.

Belarus Moves Some Migrants Away From Poland's Border

The number of migrants camped out on the Belarusian side of Poland's eastern border has fallen, a tentative sign of a de-escalation in the monthslong confrontation between the European Union and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Officials from Poland's Interior Ministry say Belarusian officials have sent buses to collect people from the sprawling tent city along Poland's border. Belarusian officials confirmed that they provided buses to move some migrants away from the border and would be giving them shelter in warehouses.

Big Winners From Natural-Gas Crunch: Coal Power Plants in Europe

Coal power plants are running at full tilt in parts of Europe and enjoying a rare bout of massive profitability, a setback to efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Under Europe's climate policies, this shouldn't be happening. The European Union and U.K. pushed world leaders, unsuccessfully, to back an end to coal consumption at the Glasgow summit on climate change. Both have markets for emission permits that are designed to pinch profit at polluters such as coal-fired power stations and funnel capital toward greener energy.

GLOBAL NEWS

Unemployment Claims Likely Fell in 'Job-Hopper Economy'

Jobless claims are drifting down toward pre-pandemic levels, a sign employers are avoiding layoffs as many workers quit or remain sidelined in a tight labor market.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate initial claims for jobless benefits, a proxy for layoffs, declined to 260,000 in the week ended Nov. 13, from 267,000 a week earlier. The Labor Department releases claims data on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Supply-Chain Snarls Deliver Windfalls to Wall Street

Global supply-chain bottlenecks are creating headaches for retailers, delays for consumers-and big gains for financial firms that invested in container ships before the pandemic upended the logistics business.

New York-based Mangrove Partners, which managed $1.3 billion at the end of September, was up 70% for the year through October. Roughly half of the hedge fund's gains stem from shipping investments, said a person familiar with the firm. Mangrove focuses on inefficient or out-of-favor industries.

Turkey's Lira Slides to Historic Low Ahead of Central Bank Meeting

ISTANBUL-Turkey's currency sank to a historic low against the dollar on Thursday as investors fled the lira in anticipation of a central-bank decision to cut interest rates demanded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The lira dropped to 10.97 against the dollar early Thursday morning before rebounding to 10.66. The currency has lost nearly 8% of its value since Monday as Mr. Erdogan reiterated a demand for lower interest rates as a part of his unorthodox strategy to spur economic growth.

Effort to Hire Dallas and Boston Fed Leaders Hits Full Stride

The search to replace two regional Federal Reserve bank presidents who resigned in the wake of a financial market trading controversy is in full swing, and boosting diversity at the central bank is expected to factor into the process.

The Dallas Fed said Wednesday that it launched an effort to replace Robert Kaplan, while the Boston Fed announced its search for a successor to Eric Rosengren in mid-October.

Biden Asks FTC to Examine Oil, Gas Companies' Role in High Gasoline Prices

WASHINGTON-President Biden called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil-and-gas companies are participating in illegal conduct aimed at keeping gasoline prices high, in the latest effort by the White House to respond to public concerns about costs for everything from fuel to groceries.

Outside analysts expressed skepticism that the FTC would find enough evidence to substantiate Mr. Biden's allegations, and they said the president has few options for quickly lowering gasoline prices.

U.S. Climate Risk Guidance Will Be in Line With Global Principles, Bank Regulator Says

The acting head of the U.S.'s top banking regulator called for banks to be screened for climate risk as part of their periodic stress tests and said the agency's own regulatory approach was focused on maintaining the safety and soundness of the financial system.

"Banks face all sorts of risks everyday-credit risk, market risk, liquidity risk," said Michael Hsu, acting comptroller of the currency. "What's emerging now is that climate change is going to be impacting a number of those risks in different ways, and we need banks to prepare for that."

Bank Indonesia Keeps Benchmark Rate Unchanged to Support Economic Recovery

Indonesia's central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday to continue supporting the country's economic recovery.

The central bank maintained its seven-day reverse repo rate at 3.50%. In a Wall Street Journal poll, seven analysts unanimously predicted that the central bank would stand pat.

Philippines Central Bank Maintains Rates on Signs of Economic Recovery

The Philippine central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged, as the economy has shown some signs of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Thursday held its benchmark overnight borrowing rate steady at 2.00% and its corresponding lending rate at 2.50%.

U.S. Pushes Arms-Control Talks as China's Nuclear Arsenal Grows

TAIPEI-Washington is pushing for arms-control talks with China as the country, long an atomic also-ran, has rapidly expanded its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and more weapons to carry them.

U.S. officials say President Biden and his counterpart, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, this week agreed at a virtual summit to explore talks on what White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan described as "strategic stability."

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11-18-21 0634ET

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