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North American Morning Briefing : Markets Steady -2-

09/21/2021 | 06:04am EDT

The dispute concerns the deal Honeywell signed to resolve asbestos liabilities stemming from its former subsidiary North American Refractories Co., or NARCO, which set up a compensation trust in chapter 11 bankruptcy to handle injury claims. Honeywell has failed to honor the promises it made to fund that compensation program, according to a lawsuit filed by the NARCO trust on Monday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh.


FedEx, UPS Rate Rises Are Making Online Shopping More Expensive

Shipping rates are going up faster than they have in nearly a decade, increasing pressure on merchants to raise prices or find other ways to offset higher costs.

FedEx Corp. on Monday said shipping rates would go up an average of 5.9% next year across most of its services, the first time in eight years that it or rival United Parcel Service Inc. has strayed above annual increases of 4.9%.


Universal Music Shares Soar in Market Debut

Shares of Universal Music Group NV-behind stars including Taylor Swift, Drake and the Beatles-surged in their trading debut, a strong vote of confidence from investors in continued growth in the music industry.

In early trading, the company's stock rose 38% above the reference price of 18.50 euros, set Monday evening by the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam. At the current price, the world's largest music company, which is being spun off from French media conglomerate Vivendi SE, has a valuation of more than EUR45 billion, equivalent to $52.75 billion.


Shell to Sell Permian Assets to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 Billion

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has agreed to sell all of its assets in the Permian basin, the most active U.S. oil field, to ConocoPhillips for around $9.5 billion in cash.

The deal, disclosed by both companies on Monday, comes as Shell is attempting to cut its carbon emissions and invest more in renewable energy. The sale is one of the largest recent transactions in the shale patch as large oil companies come under increasing pressure to diversify outside of fossil fuels.


Credit Suisse's Archegos Disaster Exposes Cracks in Bank Regulation

When Archegos Capital Management blew up, it saddled Credit Suisse Group AG with $5.5 billion in losses. One reason investors and regulators were blindsided: a gap in the regulatory oversight of big international banks.

That is the conclusion of financial risk consultants who have sifted through the wreckage.


APA Bids More for AusNet Services, Competing With Brookfield

SYDNEY-APA Group set a deadline of one week for AusNet Services Ltd. to allow due diligence access after saying it is willing to trump an existing takeover proposal made by Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

APA said it has made a nonbinding proposal to acquire AusNet for 9.96 billion Australian dollars (US$7.22 billion), or A$2.60 a share using a mix of cash and its own stock. The implied offer is higher than the A$2.50-a-share proposal made by Brookfield, which AusNet said on Monday that it intends to recommend to shareholders.


Flying Taxis' Best Ride Is to the Helicopter Market

Cabdrivers don't need to worry about being replaced by flying cars. Helicopter makers might need to a little bit.

Vertical Aerospace, a British startup devoted to the development of electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles, or eVTOL, has just received a preorder for 25 aircraft plus an option for 25 more from Bristow Group, a U.S.-owned operator of civil helicopters, the air-taxi company told The Wall Street Journal.


Powell's Taper Tightrope Could Be Complicated by Fed 'Dots'

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell faces the risk of another dot dilemma this week.

Mr. Powell has stressed in public remarks that the Fed's decision about when to slow its bond buying shouldn't fuel inferences about officials' intentions to lift rates.


U.S. Stock-Market Tumble Hasn't Quelled Optimism

U.S. stocks are facing their most uncertain outlook since the Covid-19 pandemic sent the market tumbling last year. But many investors say there is no better place to be right now.

Major U.S. stock indexes sank Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing more than 600 points, or 1.8%, as concerns grew that a default by real-estate developer China Evergrande Group could spur a widespread retreat from riskier assets. Percolating worries about a slowdown in economic growth, ongoing supply-chain issues and rising deaths tied to the Delta variant of the coronavirus added to the volatility.


China Evergrande Fallout Hits Western Bond Funds

The potential default of real-estate developer China Evergrande Group is taking a toll on funds in Europe and the U.S. that chased high yields in the Chinese corporate bond market.

Concerns that Evergrande might not pay its bonds this month triggered selling of other companies in the country's property sector, weighing down funds managed by Ashmore Group, BlackRock Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co., among others.


Why Container Ships Can't Sail Around the California Ports Bottleneck

There appears to be no sailing around the breathtaking backup of container ships off the jammed ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Newly-arriving vessels are adding to a record-breaking flotilla waiting to unload cargo that on Sunday reached 73 ships, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, nearly double the number a month ago and expanding a fleet that has become a stark sign of the disruptions and delays roiling global supply chains.


OECD Expects Delta Variant to Slow, But Not Derail, Global Economic Recovery

The fast-spreading Delta variant of Covid-19 has slowed the pace of the global economic recovery, but won't derail it, according to new forecasts released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on Tuesday.

In its latest quarterly report on the economic outlook, the Paris-based research body lowered its growth forecasts for the global and U.S. economies in 2021, the first downgrade since December last year, when new infections were surging.


Bank Indonesia Stands Pat as Economy Shows Signs of Recovery

Indonesia's central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged to safeguard the stability of the rupiah and support the country's economic recovery.

The central bank maintained its seven-day reverse repo rate at 3.50% on Tuesday. That was in line with a Wall Street Journal poll of eight economists, who unanimously expected the move.


Biden to Stress Importance of Alliances in U.N. Speech

WASHINGTON-President Biden will outline a U.S. foreign-policy vision rooted in diplomacy and global alliances during his first address to the United Nations as commander-in-chief, calling for a shift away from armed conflict after two decades of war.

At a moment when some U.S. alliances are facing strain, Mr. Biden is expected to make the case that the biggest issues facing the world-from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change-can only be solved with cooperation among countries with varying national interests, according to U.S. officials. He'll encourage competition among rising powers but make clear that he doesn't want another Cold War, the officials said.


U.S. Pledge to Vaccinate Poor Countries Stutters Amid Logistical Challenges

A White House plan to donate hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines has been hampered in many developing countries by a lack of infrastructure to handle storage and distribution, leaving poorer nations far behind the developed world in vaccination rates.

After a delayed start-the U.S. missed its first donation target-the Biden administration has been ramping up overseas donations, shipping around 137 million doses, most of them Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. It expects to send 500 million doses of a shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE by the end of June 2022, the largest donation total of any country.


U.S. Covid-19 Death Toll Surpasses 1918 Flu Fatalities

The number of known Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. has surpassed the country's fatalities from the 1918-19 flu pandemic.

The U.S. on Monday crossed the threshold of 675,000 reported Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks data from state health authorities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the influenza pandemic killed about that many people in the U.S. a century ago, in 1918 and 1919. Both figures are likely undercounts, epidemiologists and historians say.


Canada's Justin Trudeau Headed for Victory in National Vote

OTTAWA-Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was headed toward a third straight electoral victory Tuesday morning, although his bet that a snap vote would help him secure a majority government failed to materialize.

Both Canada's CTV Network and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. projected the incumbent Liberal Party was set to win enough seats in parliament to form a minority government.


In Mississippi Abortion Case, Supreme Court Sets Arguments for December

WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court set Dec. 1 for arguments over a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, a case that could bring the court's most significant ruling on reproductive rights since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The court announced the date on Monday, as dozens of organizations, officials and advocates submitted briefs seeking to influence the decision before a midnight filing deadline. While many positions were predictable-the National Right to Life Committee favoring the ban, the American Civil Liberties Union in opposition-the case drew a range of submissions from around the world.


Write to paul.larkins@wsj.com



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09-21-21 0603ET

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