EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING: Stocks Fall as -2-

07/30/2021 | 06:16am

The FTSE 100 listed bank said it aims to launch a share buyback program of up to 750 million pounds ($1.05 billion) in the second half of the year. It said it also intends to close the year with a full year net release of provisions instead of an impairment loss.

Bayer Plans for Roundup Litigation Claims Rising by $4.5 Billion

Bayer AG sees expenses from lawsuits accusing its Roundup weedkiller of causing cancer potentially rising by $4.5 billion-significantly more than it had previously planned for.

The company will set aside the additional funds to cover Roundup claims in its next quarterly financial report, Bayer executives said Thursday. The new provisions would raise Bayer's funds earmarked for the claims to more than $16 billion from the $11.6 billion the company had previously said it would pay to resolve the cases.

Pearson 1H Pretax Profit Fell; Sees Full-Year on Track

Pearson PLC said Friday that first-half pretax profit fell due to the sale of its remaining stake in Penguin Random House last year and restructuring costs, and that it is on track to meet its expectations for the full year.

The FTSE 100 education company said pretax profit for the first six months of the year was 4 million pounds ($5.6 million) compared with GBP35 million for the same period last year.

EU Overtakes U.S. in Covid-19 Vaccines as Delta Variant Spreads

MILAN-The European Union passed the U.S. in Covid-19 vaccinations, with the continent inoculating people at a sustained pace and America struggling to persuade vaccine holdouts to get a shot to slow the spread of the Delta variant.

The EU has given at least one vaccine shot to 259 million people, or 58.3% of the total population of its 27 member countries as of Thursday, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data, an Oxford University project tracking the global vaccine rollout. The U.S. has reached 56.7% of its population, equivalent to 189 million people.

U.K. Shop Vacancies Rise for Third Consecutive Year

The second quarter marked the third year in a row of increasing vacancy rates at U.K. shops and this trend is set to continue, according to the latest report by Local Data Company and the British Retail Consortium.

Perpetuating a trend started in the first quarter of 2018, the vacancy rate in the second quarter of 2021 rose to 14.5% from 14.1% in the first quarter of the year, the report found. This means that one in seven British shops is unoccupied.

GLOBAL NEWS

Household Spending Likely Rose in June, Before Delta Variant Upswing

U.S. households likely boosted spending in June, contributing to robust growth during the second quarter, though the current upswing in Covid-19 cases related to the Delta variant and higher inflation are injecting uncertainty into the economic outlook.

Economists estimate that the Commerce Department will report Friday that personal-consumption expenditures-a measure of household spending on goods and services-increased 0.7% last month. That would follow a flat reading in May, when consumers pulled back on purchases of goods but boosted spending on services.

Big Oil Is Vulnerable to Climate Change. Literally.

Alaska seems like one of the last places on the planet that could use extra cooling. That is exactly what it will soon need, though, to prevent one of the world's largest oil pipeline systems from sinking into melting permafrost.

Recent wildfires, floods and droughts across the world are bringing the spotlight once again to the contribution that the oil-and-gas industry has made to climate change. Less talked about is how exposed the industry is itself to unusual and extreme weather. It doesn't quite threaten the industry's existence and could even benefit some producers. Shareholders and consumers could be left with the tab, though.

U.S. Crypto Traders Evade Offshore Exchange Bans

Americans are circumventing bans intended to stop U.S. customers from accessing overseas cryptocurrency exchanges, new research suggests.

A report released Friday found that hundreds of Americans are trading risky crypto derivatives on offshore exchanges such as FTX and Binance. The report sheds light on an open secret in the industry: U.S. crypto enthusiasts can easily bypass measures that seek to block them from offshore exchanges.

U.S. Import Surge Overwhelms Warehouse Space Near Ports

Surging demand for warehousing close to major ports driven by the growth of e-commerce and the flood of container imports hitting U.S. shores is making storage space harder to find and more expensive, adding new stresses to already strained supply chains.

Logistics service providers and real-estate firms say competition for warehouses close to ports such as those in Southern California and New York City is intense, pushing up rents and forcing companies to look to neighboring regions to serve shippers' needs.

China's Tech Crackdown Could Backfire Badly

In the superhero movie "Avengers: Infinity War," antagonist Thanos snaps his fingers and half of life in the universe instantly disappears. After the rout of the past few days, that may sound horribly familiar to investors in certain Chinese educational and internet technology stocks.

The big question is what comes next.

Glynn's Take: RBA Will Choose the Path of Least Regret and Delay QE Taper

SYDNEY-It's been said that conducting monetary policy at the best of times is like driving at night in torrential rain with a fogged and cracked windscreen. The headlights are also out and windshield wipers were an option that you just couldn't afford.

It's like that at the moment for the Reserve Bank of Australia. A fierce storm has been whipped up by the sudden shutdown of Sydney due to a significant outbreak of Covid-19 cases. It has regrettably introduced the city to the highly contagious Delta variant, bringing with it harsh mobility restrictions, with troops now on the ground to enforce compliance.

China's Food Market Remains Stable Despite Henan Floods

Widespread flooding in central China's Henan province only had a partial and short-term impact on the country's food market, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Friday.

"China's food prices haven't seen significant fluctuations, and the food market has remained basically stable," said Tang Ke, a senior official from the ministry, according to state media.

Covid-19 Outbreak During Olympics Leads Japan to Widen State of Emergency

TOKYO-Japan widened its state of emergency to the entire Tokyo region and extended it until the end of August in response to a Covid-19 outbreak that has erupted during the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said there would be no changes to the Olympics, which run through Aug. 8, and officials said there wasn't a connection between the start of the Games on July 23 and the rapid rise in new cases. Nonetheless, the outbreak put a damper on the nation's mood despite a string of gold medals won by Japanese athletes.

Hong Kong Protester, First to Be Sentenced Under China's National Security Law, Gets Nine Years

HONG KONG-The first person convicted under the national-security law imposed by Beijing was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday, in a case closely watched as a bellwether for how strictly Hong Kong judges will enforce the law.

Tong Ying-kit, 24 years old, had been found guilty Tuesday of inciting secession and committing terrorist activities. During street protests on July 1 last year-the anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule and the day after the law took effect-he drove a motorcycle that collided with police officers. He was carrying a flag bearing the popular protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times," which the local government later declared has forbidden pro-independence connotations.

EU Overtakes U.S. in Covid-19 Vaccines as Delta Variant Spreads

MILAN-The European Union passed the U.S. in Covid-19 vaccinations, with the continent inoculating people at a sustained pace and America struggling to persuade vaccine holdouts to get a shot to slow the spread of the Delta variant.

The EU has given at least one vaccine shot to 259 million people, or 58.3% of the total population of its 27 member countries as of Thursday, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data, an Oxford University project tracking the global vaccine rollout. The U.S. has reached 56.7% of its population, equivalent to 189 million people.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

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This article is a text version of a Wall Street Journal newsletter published earlier today.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

07-30-21 0615ET

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