EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING : Stocks Drift Higher in -2-

11/25/2021 | 06:27am

Swiss Life Holding AG on Thursday set out its midterm plan targeting higher earnings and shareholder returns, as well as reductions in emissions from its operations and portfolio.

Marking its capital-markets day, the Swiss insurer is targeting an increase in its fee result to between 850 million-900 million Swiss francs ($910 million-$964 million) by 2024, from CHF600 million-CHF650 million estimated this year. The adjusted return on equity should rise to 10%-12% by the same year, from 8%-10% expected this year, Swiss Life said.

Generali in Exclusive Talks to Buy Unit From Credit Agricole

Assicurazioni Generali SpA is in exclusive talks to buy Credit Agricole SA's La Medicale business, the two companies said late Wednesday.

La Medicale is Credit Agricole Assurances' insurance subsidiary for healthcare professionals.

Orange CEO Stephane Richard Resigns Following Suspended Jail Sentence in Fraud Case

French telecommunications company Orange said late Wednesday that Chief Executive Stephane Richard resigned after a Paris court handed him a one-year suspended jail sentence, saying he was guilty of complicity in the misuse of public funds in a long-running fraud case.

The Paris Court of Appeal said that it was also fining Mr. Richard 50,000 euros ($56,002.50), in a ruling that stems from his alleged role in an arbitration panel that gave a financial award to a prominent French businessman when Mr. Richard was a senior official at the French Finance Ministry.

Sweden's First Female Prime Minister Resigns Hours After Her Appointment

Sweden's first female prime minister resigned Wednesday evening, just hours after her appointment, as her coalition government collapsed.

Magdalena Andersson was named prime minister after a parliamentary vote Wednesday, but she saw her budget bill fail to pass in a vote later in the day. This meant that the budget proposed by opposition parties was approved instead, an opposition that includes the populist Sweden Democrats.

Europe Health Agency, in Shift, Urges Faster Covid-19 Booster Rollout as Cases Surge

The head of the European Union's public-health agency recommended governments accelerate their campaigns to roll out Covid-19 booster shots as case numbers rise rapidly across parts of the bloc.

Andrea Ammon, head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said on Wednesday that Covid-19 boosters should be offered to everyone over 18 years old, six months after they were first fully vaccinated, with priority given to those ages 40 and older.

Israel Warns White House Over Striking Partial Nuclear Deal with Iran

Israeli officials are urging the White House not to strike a partial nuclear deal with Iran, warning it would be a gift to the new hard-line government in Tehran and stoking a growing public rift with the Biden administration over Iran's nuclear program.

Senior Israeli officials say they fear that Washington is setting the stage for a "less-for-less" deal that would offer Tehran partial sanctions relief in exchange for freezing or winding back parts of their nuclear work. The tension comes as nuclear talks are set to resume on Monday, with expectations low that the 2015 nuclear deal-which the Trump administration withdrew from-can be fully revived.

27 Migrants Drown in the English Channel

French authorities recovered the bodies of 27 migrants who they said drowned in the English Channel trying to reach the U.K., one of the area's deadliest migrant crossings in recent years.

A fisherman saw bodies floating in the sea on Wednesday and alerted French authorities around 2 p.m. local time, officials said. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said five women and a little girl were among the dead. He said only two migrants had been rescued alive so far, and both remain in critical condition. Rescue operations are continuing, he said.

GLOBAL NEWS

What Inflation? Small Investors Keep Piling Into Flashy Growth Stocks

Conventional Wall Street wisdom says inflation is bad for growth and technology stocks. Many small investors don't care.

Individual investors continue to stampede into shares of growth companies, the types of buzzy stocks that have enjoyed explosive price gains this year. Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Nvidia Corp. and Apple Inc. are the three stocks most purchased this month by individual investors, according to VandaTrack, a Vanda Research flow tracker that measures net purchases.

Fed Officials Debated Inflation Concerns, Taper Pace at November Meeting

Federal Reserve officials expressed greater concern at their meeting earlier this month about how long inflation would stay elevated and discussed whether they should prepare to raise interest rates in the first half of next year to cool off the economy.

The Fed closed a chapter on its aggressive pandemic policy response when it approved plans at the Nov. 2-3 meeting to shrink its $120-billion-a-month asset purchases by $15 billion each in November and December, a pace that would end the program by next June. They want to end the asset purchases before they lift interest rates, which they held near zero.

Bank of Korea Raises Rates Again With an Eye on Inflation

South Korea raised interest rates for the second time in three months, expressing confidence in the global economic recovery while giving priority to moves to curb accelerating inflation and soaring household debt.

The Bank of Korea increased its benchmark seven-day repurchase rate by 0.25 percentage point to 1% on Thursday. In August, South Korea became the first developed economy in Asia to raise rates since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, nudging up from a low of 0.50%.

U.S. Recovery Accelerates on Spending, Labor Market Growth

The U.S. economy showed broad-based signs of acceleration heading into the end of the year, with consumers ramping up spending, businesses stepping up investment and jobless claims falling to historic lows.

Household spending rose 1.3% in October from a month earlier, while personal income increased 0.5% last month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Consumers are benefiting from a strong labor market. And they are spending at a faster pace than inflation, which recently hit a three-decade high.

Antitrust Tech Bills Gain Bipartisan Momentum in Senate

WASHINGTON-Support for curbing large technology companies' market power is widening in the Senate, with lawmakers in both parties endorsing new legal constraints on search engines, e-marketplaces, app stores and other online platforms.

Lawmakers say they are responding to public concerns over the size and influence of the tech companies.

China's State-Run Firms Limit Use of Tencent's Messaging App

SINGAPORE-Some Chinese state-run companies are restricting employees' use of Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s popular domestic messaging app, citing security concerns, according to people familiar with the matter.

This week, managers at at least nine state-run companies, including some of the nation's largest, such as China Mobile Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp., told employees that any chat groups set up for work purposes on Weixin-Tencent's dominant messaging app in China-could contain sensitive information and should be shut down and deleted, the people said.

U.S. Invitation to Taiwan for Democracy Summit Tests Ties With China

WASHINGTON-The Biden administration invited Taiwan to participate in a meeting of democracies, further bucking Beijing's long-pressed campaign to isolate the island diplomatically and testing a recent lessening of U.S.-China tensions.

The inaugural Summit for Democracy, a virtual gathering scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10, aims to bring together more than 100 democratic governments and excludes China, Russia and some other countries with authoritarian leaders. By inviting Taiwan, the Biden administration is broadening an effort to include the island in international forums, raising its profile as a bulwark against intimidation by Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its territory.

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

11-25-21 0626ET

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