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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Struggle for -2-

08/12/2021 | 06:11am EDT

Output from factories, mines and utilities across the single-currency area in June fell 0.3% from the previous month, the EU statistics agency said. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.2% increase. Eurostat revised down month-on-month industrial output growth for May to a 1.1% drop from a 1.0% decline in the first estimate.

Hapag-Lloyd 1H Profit, Revenue Rose on Higher Freight Rate

Hapag-Lloyd AG on Thursday said that its first-half profit increased as container demand was strong and freight rates were high.

The German shipping operator posted a net profit of $3.28 billion in its first half up from $314 million during the same period last year. Revenue rose about 51% to $10.55 billion, it said.

Aviva 1H Operating Profit Rose; Launches Share Buyback Program

Aviva PLC reported on Thursday a swing to a net loss for the first half of 2021 and a rise in operating profit, and said that it is launching a share buyback program.

The FTSE-100 insurer posted a net loss of 232 million pounds ($321.8 million) compared with a profit of GBP821 million for the same period a year earlier.

Cineworld 1H Loss Narrowed But Ebitda Was Hit by Pandemic Restrictions

Cineworld Group PLC said Thursday that its first-half loss narrowed, although its underlying performance worsened, hit by Covid-19 restrictions; and that it is considering listing its shares in the U.S.

The U.K.-based cinema operator booked a pretax loss of $576.4 million for the six months ended June 30, compared with a $1.64 billion pretax loss a year earlier.

Henkel Shares Fall After It Warns on Raw-Material Costs, Supply-Chain Issues

Shares in Henkel AG fell Thursday after it warned that raw-material costs and supply-chain issues would weigh heavily on the second half of the year, amid a mixed picture for full-year guidance.

At 0810 GMT, shares in the German chemicals and consumer-goods company were down 2.8% at EUR85.98.

Delivery Hero Raises FY Gross Merchandise Value Outlook in Light of Strong 2Q

Delivery Hero SE on Thursday raised its gross merchandise value outlook for the full year on the back of a strong performance in the second quarter.

The Berlin-based food-delivery company targets gross merchandise value of 33 billion euros to 35 billion euros ($38.7 billion-$41.4 billion) for 2021, compared with a previous target of EUR31 billion-EUR34 billion.

TUI AG 3Q Returned to Cash Flow for First Time Since Pandemic; 3Q EBIT Loss Halved

TUI AG said Thursday that it returned to cash flow for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic as it reported a near halved loss before interest and taxes.

The London-listed, German travel operator said cash flow was 320 million euros ($357.7 million) in the quarter before financing, adding that it resumed business activities in all European markets. "Demand for holiday travel remains unabatedly high," it said.

Zurich Insurance 1H Profit Rose on Lower Covid-19 Claims

Zurich Insurance Group AG said Thursday that first-half net profit rose 86% as a reduced impact from Covid-19 offset higher losses from extreme weather events.

Net profit for the six months to the end of June increased to $2.19 billion from $1.18 billion, while business operating profit jumped 60% to $2.71 billion, the Swiss insurance giant said.

UK GDP Grew in 2Q

The U.K. economy grew in the second quarter after the easing of some coronavirus restrictions.

Gross domestic product expanded 4.8% on quarter, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday, fueled by consumer spending.

Deutsche Telekom Again Raises Earnings Guidance for 2021

Deutsche Telekom AG on Thursday raised part of its outlook for the year, and said revenue and adjusted earnings for the second quarter fell.

The German telecommunications company said quarterly adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization after leases dropped to 9.42 billion euros ($11.06 billion) from EUR9.83 billion a year earlier. Analysts had forecast EUR9.13 billion, according to consensus estimates compiled by the company.

RWE 1H Adjusted Net Income Rose; Lifts 2021 Guidance

RWE AG said Thursday that adjusted net income for the first half rose, and raised its full-year outlook on the back of an exceptional performance across its supply and trading business.

The German energy company posted an adjusted net income of 870 million euros ($1.02 billion) for the period compared with EUR816 million a year earlier.

Aegon NV Reports Swing to 2Q Net Profit; Raises Dividend

Aegon NV on Thursday reported a swing to net profit for the second quarter of the year and raised its interim dividend.

The Dutch insurance and asset-management company made a net profit for the quarter of 849 million euros ($996.7 million) compared with a loss of EUR1.07 billion for the year-earlier period.

Belarus Revokes U.S. Ambassador's Appointment in Retaliatory Move to Sanctions

MOSCOW-Belarus announced retaliatory action against Washington, including rescinding its consent of the appointment of the U.S. ambassador, in response to the latest U.S. sanctions on the regime of the country's authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

"In recent years, our countries have come a long way in bringing diplomatic relations to a more or less acceptable level, so it is a pity that the impudent and openly hostile actions of the American side...destroyed the achievements of their predecessors," Belarus's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Anatoly Glaz, said in comments posted Wednesday on the ministry's website.

GLOBAL NEWS

Delta Variant Has Dented 2021 Recovery in Oil Demand, IEA Says

The rapidly spreading coronavirus Delta variant and its impact on the global economy mean the world will consume less oil this year than previously thought, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.

In its closely-watched monthly market report, the Paris-based organization said that the worsening of the pandemic, as well as revisions to historical data, mean its global oil demand outlook has been "appreciably downgraded," with some of this year's forecast recovery shifted to 2022.

FDA Moving Toward Decision Authorizing Booster Shot for Immunocompromised

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is nearing a decision to authorize Covid-19 booster shots for certain people with weak immune systems, people familiar with the matter said, a shift in the American vaccination strategy as the Delta variant drives up cases of infection.

The agency could make a decision as early as Thursday and probably by Friday, one of the people said.

Layoffs Appear to Ease Despite Delta Variant Uncertainty

New applications for jobless benefits likely declined last week, indicating a healing labor market despite the uncertainty caused by the latest surge in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant, economists say.

Economists estimate that first-time applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell to a seasonally adjusted 375,000 in the week ending Aug. 7, from 385,000 in the prior week, according to a Wall Street Journal survey. That would mark the third straight week of declines. The Labor Department will release the latest numbers at 8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday.

High-Speed Trading Firm Jump to Execute Retail Investors' Stock Trades

Jump Trading Group, one of the world's largest high-frequency trading firms, will launch a unit that executes stock orders for individual investors, a business that has grown more lucrative for electronic traders as meme-stock mania has fueled a surge in U.S. retail volumes.

Executives at Jump told The Wall Street Journal that the firm is setting up a so-called retail wholesaler business. Wholesalers fill buy and sell orders for the customers of online brokerages such as Robinhood Markets Inc. and TD Ameritrade.

Philippines Central Bank Keeps Rate at Record Low Amid Pandemic Uncertainty

The Philippine central bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low, as a recent rise in local Covid-19 cases continues to cloud the economic outlook.

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

Two Fed Officials Call for End to Bond-Buying Program

Two Federal Reserve officials said Wednesday it is time for the central bank to start reversing the easy money policies put in place to support the economy after the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George said the central bank has made enough progress toward its objectives of boosting growth and employment to end its $120 billion in monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities. The Fed has been purchasing large quantities of assets to provide extra stimulus after cutting its short-term interest rate to near zero, and officials in December pledged to continue those purchases until making "substantial" progress toward economic and labor-market health.

New York Stock Exchange to Require Floor Traders to Get Vaccinated

The New York Stock Exchange will require traders to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to access its historic trading floor, stepping up its measures against the coronavirus amid rising cases of the Delta variant.

Traders and other personnel who work on the floor will need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 13, unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption, NYSE Chief Operating Officer Michael Blaugrund said in a Wednesday email to the exchange's floor community.

Covid-19 Vaccine Scammers Target Authorities in Dozens of Countries Including Italy and Colombia

Criminal organizations and individuals claiming access to Covid-19 vaccines have contacted authorities in dozens of countries hoping they will sign illegitimate contracts for millions of dollars, according to documents and people familiar with the attempts.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

08-12-21 0610ET

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