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North American Morning Briefing: Stock Futures -2-

In late March, the maker of North Face jackets and Vans sneakers quietly took down a statement raising concern about allegations of forced labor in China's cotton-rich Xinjiang region. Rival fashion company H&M had just been erased from China's internet for a similar statement.

Three other big apparel companies also pulled or altered statements critical of Xinjiang from their websites in the days that followed the boycott of H&M, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. At Denver-based VF Corp., though, executives quickly convened to deliberate over what they felt was the right thing to do, according to a person familiar with the matter. Twenty-four hours after pulling its statement, the company posted a new, shorter statement reaffirming its stance.

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Amtrak's Regional Rail Expansion Faces Hurdle From Freight Trains

WASHINGTON-Amtrak and the Biden administration have a $75 billion plan to transform passenger train travel across America-but aside from funding, the biggest challenge might be getting the nation's freight railroads to get on board.

The seven major freight carriers have long resisted calls to make more room on their tracks for trains carrying people rather than coal, grain and steel. Current and former federal officials say the greatest impediment to Amtrak's national expansion could be finding a way to work with freight carriers.

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Supply Crunch Risks Extending Into 2022, Stoking Inflation

Supply constraints that have challenged businesses and caused shortages of everything from semiconductors to sweatpants are deepening, adding to pressure on inflation and testing the Federal Reserve's resolve to keep juicing the economy.

Economists and business executives now say those supply-chain disruptions, key labor shortages and resurgent demand driven by multiple rounds of fiscal stimulus will persist through the end of the year, if not longer.

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Economy Week Ahead: U.S. Existing-Home Sales, German Business Confidence

Tuesday

U.S. existing-home sales fell in April from the prior month as record-high prices deterred potential buyers. But April sales remained 51.7% higher than the same month a year before. Economists expect another decline in May.

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Turbocharged U.S. Economy Attracts Foreign Investors

The extraordinary recovery of the U.S. economy is likely to make the country the world's top destination for overseas investment this year and next, according to new United Nations projections, with foreign businesses drawn by the prospect of a rapid and sustained rebound in consumer spending and the Biden administration's multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plans.

According to U.N. figures published Monday, overseas investments by businesses around the world fell by a third in 2020 from the previous year. The U.S. recorded a 40% fall in investment but narrowly held on to its long-held position as the top destination ahead of China. The U.N. in January estimated that the U.S. had lost the top slot.

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China Tweaks Deposit Rate Rules to Guide Funding Costs Down

China has tweaked the mechanism to determine the upper limits on banks' deposit rates, leading to a reduction of longer-term funding rates, as competition for stable sources of deposits has intensified.

The Self-Disciplinary Mechanism for the Pricing of Market-Oriented Interest Rates, backed by China's central bank, said Monday that it has changed how to determine the ceilings on deposit rates by adding certain basis points to the government-set benchmark rate.

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Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Could Lose Gas-Tax Rise, Senator Says

WASHINGTON-A proposed infrastructure spending plan may be hammered out without a measure raising the gasoline tax, a key Republican lawmaker said Sunday, suggesting the removal of an obstacle to a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure plan pushed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), one of the lead Republicans in the group, said a higher gasoline tax may not be in the final package, citing opposition from the Biden administration.

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Tight Labor Market Returns the Upper Hand to American Workers

Low-wage workers found something unexpected in the economy's recovery from the pandemic: leverage.

Ballooning job openings in fields requiring minimal education-including in restaurants, transportation, warehousing and manufacturing-combined with a shrinking labor force are giving low-wage workers perks previously reserved for white-collar employees. That often means bonuses, bigger raises and competing offers.

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Breaking Up Japan Inc.'s Love Affair With Itself

Japan's corporate-governance reform has been a long, often painful process. But there has been some recent progress on one perennial complaint: massive cross-holdings that empower management and tend to weigh on returns.

Nonfinancial companies on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section booked 610 billion yen ($5.3 billion) of gains from sales of securities for the six months ending in March, a 92% year-over-year rise, according to Goldman Sachs. And 137 companies reduced such cross-shareholdings in the fiscal year ending in March, a 59% increase from a year earlier, noted the bank.

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Iran's New Hard-Line President Poised for Pivotal Role in Nuclear Talks

When Iranian diplomats resume talks with Western officials to revive a battered nuclear deal, one name will stand out on the list of individuals Tehran wants removed from the U.S. sanctions list: Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's president-elect.

The 60-year-old hard-line judge, who won Friday's presidential election in Iran, was sanctioned two years ago by the Trump administration for his close ties to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. As Iran's president-elect, Mr. Raisi has emerged in a pivotal role that could determine the fate of the 2015 multination accord.

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Troubled Companies Take Page From AMC Playbook in Seeking Stock-Market Lifelines

The frenzied stock-buying activity that may have saved AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. from bankruptcy is opening up a potential escape hatch for other troubled borrowers as well.

More companies with steep financial challenges are seeking a lifeline from equity markets, eager to capitalize on the surge of interest in stock buying from nonprofessional investors. Earlier this month, coal miner Peabody Energy Corp., offshore drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. and retailer Express Inc., all announced plans to sell stock, betting equity markets will support them despite heavy debt loads, recent losses and industry headwinds.

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Facebook, Alphabet Keep Rising; Apple, Netflix Fade

Big tech stocks are going their own ways in 2021.

It is a far cry from last year, when the so-called FAANG stocks took a commanding role in a market driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Tokyo Olympics to Allow Spectators at Summer Games

TOKYO-The Summer Olympics in Tokyo will include up to 10,000 Japanese spectators at each event, organizers said, despite advice by leading doctors that the Games would be safer without crowds.

Monday's decision clears up the final major uncertainty about the Games ahead of the opening ceremony on July 23. Officials said in March that foreign spectators wouldn't be permitted to travel to Japan to attend the Olympics.

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Supreme Court Signals Expansion of Religious Exemptions From Laws

WASHINGTON-With all nine justices voting to exempt a Catholic social-service agency from Philadelphia's nondiscrimination policies, the Supreme Court sent a message Thursday that secular interests will increasingly have to give way to some religious rights. The question now is how many-and how fast.

For three conservative justices, not fast enough. "We owe it to the parties, to religious believers, and to our colleagues on the lower courts to cure the problem this Court created," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion Thursday, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. They argued that it was time to overrule a 1990 precedent holding that religious believers can't invoke the First Amendment to exempt themselves from neutral laws that apply to the public at large.

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Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Could Lose Gas-Tax Rise, Senator Says

WASHINGTON-A proposed infrastructure spending plan may be hammered out without a measure raising the gasoline tax, a key Republican lawmaker said Sunday, suggesting the removal of an obstacle to a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure plan pushed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), one of the lead Republicans in the group, said a higher gasoline tax may not be in the final package, citing opposition from the Biden administration.

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Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

TODAY IN CANADA

Earnings:

None scheduled

Economic Indicators:

None scheduled

   
 
 

Expected Major Events for Monday

05:00/JPN: May Convenience Store Sales

12:30/US: May CFNAI Chicago Fed National Activity Index

17:59/UK: May Aluminium Production report

All times in GMT. Powered by Kantar Media and Dow Jones.

   
 
 

Expected Earnings for Monday

Ennis Inc (EBF) is expected to report for 1Q.

Powered by Kantar Media and Dow Jones.

   
 
 

ANALYST RATINGS ACTIONS

Alaska Air Group Raised to Outperform From Peer Perform by Wolfe Research

BancorpSouth Bank Raised to Buy From Neutral by DA Davidson

Biogen Raised to Overweight From Neutral by Piper Sandler

CAI International Cut to Neutral From Buy by B. Riley Securities

Cimarex Cut to Equal-Weight From Overweight by Morgan Stanley

Compass Minerals Cut to Underweight From Neutral by JP Morgan

Constellation Brands Cut to Mixed From Positive by OTR Global

Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Raised to Overweight From Neutral by JP Morgan

CuriosityStream Cut to Underperform From Buy by B of A Securities

Delta Air Raised to Outperform From Underperform by Wolfe Research

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

June 21, 2021 06:08 ET (10:08 GMT)

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