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North American Morning Briefing: Stock Futures, -2-

Hedge-fund billionaire William Ackman is dropping plans to use his SPAC to invest in Universal Music Group, saying the Securities and Exchange Commission wasn't convinced the deal met the rules for such vehicles.

Mr. Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings Ltd. said it would take a Universal stake instead, becoming a long-term investor in the music group. The U-turn is a setback for Mr. Ackman, who won praise for crafting a first-of-its-kind pact that set it apart from a wave of other deals orchestrated recently by special-purpose acquisition companies.

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Johnson & Johnson Legal Rep Floats Subsidiary Bankruptcy Filing Over Talc Lawsuits

A Johnson & Johnson legal representative said in settlement discussions over its talcum-based baby powder that the company is considering placing a subsidiary in bankruptcy as part of a strategy to settle thousands of claims linking the product to ovarian cancer, according to people familiar with the matter.

The possibility of a chapter 11 bankruptcy was raised by the J&J representative during discussions over its talc-containing baby powder, according to personal-injury lawyers, who said they received the information while negotiating in recent weeks to resolve their clients' claims. Reuters on Sunday reported J&J's exploration of a potential subsidiary bankruptcy filing.

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China Wants a Chip Machine From the Dutch. The U.S. Said No.

Some of the tech industry's most important machines are made next to corn fields in the Netherlands. The U.S. government is trying to make sure they don't end up in China.

Beijing has been pressuring the Dutch government to allow its companies to buy ASML Holding NV's marquee product: a machine called an extreme ultraviolet lithography system that is essential to making advanced microprocessors.

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In the New China, Didi's Data Becomes a Problem

Bolstered by its wide swath of data on users, mapping and traffic, Didi Global Inc. became the dominant ride-hailing company in China. Now, that data is turning into a liability.

On Friday, China sent state-security and police officials and other regulators into the company's offices, as the government zeroes in on its cybersecurity practices and collection of personal information. The visit was a part of a review ordered just days after shares sold in Didi's $4.4 billion initial public offering started trading publicly in New York.

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Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Targets Bigger Space Goals

Jeff Bezos' plans for space go far beyond the short trip he is slated to take there Tuesday.

The Amazon.com Inc. founder has poured billions into his Blue Origin LLC space venture over more than two decades, believing humanity must ultimately establish outposts across the solar system.

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Italy's Zegna to List in US in $3.2 Bln SPAC Tie-Up

Italian luxury house Ermenegildo Zegna will go public on the New York Stock Exchange later this year as part of a tie-up agreement with special purpose acquisition corporation Investindustrial Acquisition Corp.

The family-owned company and the SPAC said Monday that the combined entity will have an enterprise value of $3.2 billion and a market capitalization of $2.5 billion, as part of the deal agreed on Sunday.

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AMC Settles 'Walking Dead' Lawsuit for $200 Million

AMC Networks Inc. has agreed to pay $200 million to settle a long-running legal battle with "The Walking Dead" executive producer Frank Darabont and Creative Artists Agency LLC over profits from the hit show.

Under the terms of the settlement, disclosed Friday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, AMC Networks said it would pay $143 million to settle the suit and buy out Mr. Darabont and CAA's existing rights from the show and its spinoffs. CAA represents Mr. Darabont. The cable channel AMC airs "The Walking Dead."

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Biden Blasts Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation on Social Media

President Biden blasted Facebook and other social-media companies over the spread of misinformation around Covid-19 vaccines on their platforms.

"They're killing people," Mr. Biden said Friday afternoon in response to a question about his message to companies like Facebook about misinformation. "The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they're killing people."

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OPEC, Allies Agree to Boost Oil Output as Demand Roars Back

OPEC and its Russia-led oil-producing allies agreed to unleash millions of barrels of bottled-up crude over the next two years, committing to restore all the cuts they made at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as many economies pick up and crude demand recovers.

Underscoring the uncertain speed of a full economic recovery and a return of pre-pandemic oil demand, the group chose to move gradually, agreeing to modest, monthly installments of new oil through the latter end of 2022. Oil prices have eased recently in anticipation of a deal, but analysts said the gradual nature of the output boost could continue to pressure prices.

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Economy Week Ahead: Housing, Jobless Claims, ECB

The U.S. housing market is in focus during a relatively light week for economic data.

TUESDAY

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Derby's Take: Inflation Expectations Data Roughly Aligned With Fed's Outlook

While inflation expectations data has been on the upswing, it appears to be roughly in line with the Federal Reserve's outlook that the current price pressure surge will start to dissipate after this year.

Two key reports released last week showed that while near term expectations of inflation are sprinting higher, longer run measures aren't, at least to the same degree.

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Red-Hot U.S. Economy Expected to Cool From Here

The U.S. economy's 2021 growth surge likely peaked in the spring, but a strong expansion is expected to continue into next year, say economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

Widespread business reopenings, rising vaccination rates and a big infusion of government pandemic aid this spring helped propel rapid gains in consumer spending-the economy's main driver. But that burst of economic growth is starting to slow, economists say.

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Money-Market Funds Buckled in Two Crises in a Row. Regulators Look to Fix Them Again.

The start of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a familiar wave of stress in money-market funds, which companies and consumers use like checking accounts to store their ready cash. The Federal Reserve had to step in to keep these funds operating.

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Democrats' Budget Would Finance Sweeping Clean-Energy Plan

The $3.5 trillion budget plan from congressional Democrats would finance a far-reaching transition to cleaner power, but it is expected to face opposition from parts of the energy industry and their industrial customers over provisions likely to raise their costs.

The plan calls for paying money to utilities that make a fast transition to cleaner fuels-and levying financial penalties for those that move slowly, one of several largely untested programs in the package. Others include tariffs on imports based on their production's greenhouse-gas emissions, and creating first-of-their-kind fines on oil-and-gas producers for leaking greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from their wells, pipes and tanks.

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Global Data Restrictions on the Rise Amid Privacy and Security Fears

Governments are erecting more barriers to companies sharing data across borders, according to a new global tally, as new rules for privacy and security shape digital trade.

The global number of explicit or indirect measures aimed at keeping personal data and other types of information within national borders has more than doubled since 2017 to 144, according to a study released Monday by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank said the number of countries rolling out such policies over that period grew to 62 from 35.

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Accountants, Lawmakers Urge Rules on Crypto Accounting

Accountants and lawmakers are urging standard-setters to fill a void and write concrete rules telling companies how to account for bitcoin and other cryptocurrency assets.

The assets, for which there are no binding U.S. accounting requirements, have drawn regulators' interest after sharp swings in recent months and investments by companies such as electric-car maker Tesla Inc. and payment provider Square Inc. Bitcoin, which rose to a record of $63,381 in April, has roughly halved in value since then, mirroring volatility in other digital currency assets.

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Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations

The vast majority of patients driving up Covid-19 hospitalizations in parts of the U.S. are unvaccinated, according to hospitals, some of which are reactivating surge plans used in the peak of the pandemic.

As the highly contagious Delta variant spreads nationwide, some hospital and public-health officials said they are preparing for hospitalizations to potentially reach new pandemic peaks where fewer people are vaccinated.

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Days Before the Olympics, More Athletes Test Positive for Covid-19

The long-feared possibility that the Covid-19 pandemic could disrupt the Tokyo Olympics is rapidly emerging as a reality, as Games organizers scramble to deal with a rising load of athletes and officials who are testing positive upon arrival in Japan.

The stream of positive cases is quickly demonstrating how difficult it will be to stage one of the world's largest events during a global pandemic. Tens of thousands of participants from more than 200 countries are entering a country where the vaccination rate of the local population remains low and the more-contagious Delta variant is spreading.

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Biden's Facebook Attack Followed Months of Frustration Inside White House

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

July 19, 2021 06:11 ET (10:11 GMT)

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