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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING: Stocks Rise as Positive -2-

The Swiss life-sciences company posted sales of 2.54 billion Swiss francs ($2.76 billion) for the period, up from CHF2.24 billion a year earlier.


Vodacom Group 1Q Revenue Grew

Vodacom Group Ltd. said Friday that first-quarter revenue rose as growth in international markets helped to drive service revenue higher.

The South Africa-based telecommunications company said revenue for the three months ended June 30 was 24.78 billion South African rand ($1.69 billion) compared with ZAR22.73 billion for the same period in 2020.


Global Recovery Accelerates, but Delta Variant Clouds Outlook

The global economy is expected to surge over the coming months as Europe begins to catch up with the U.S. and China, but the rapid spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 could hold back-but not derail-the recovery.

Surveys of businesses from across Europe released Friday recorded the strongest increase in activity for more than two decades. That suggests the continent is set for the kind of growth already being experienced by the U.S.


U.K. Consumer Confidence Rises in July, Beating Expectations

Consumer confidence in the U.K. rose in July, edging ahead of pre-Covid-19 levels, amid the easing of almost all virus-related restrictions in England and despite a rise in infections across the country.

Market-research firm GfK's consumer-confidence indicator came in at minus seven in July, up two points from June. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast an unchanged reading at minus nine.


Talking Markets: Europe's Economic Recovery Hopes Are Riding on Unlocking Covid-19 Savings Stockpile

When the pandemic hit Europe, Pablo Jimenez continued working as usual in his job as a computer scientist, albeit remotely. He was living in Madrid at the time but decided to quarantine in his parents' home in Zamora, a smaller city in the west of Spain. He didn't leave the apartment for four months and didn't have many expenditures--his bank account grew steadily.

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, household savings have surged at an unprecedented rate, fueled by restricted spending opportunities, combined with increased precautionary deposits owing to concerns about unemployment. Economists expect a strong rebound in private consumption thanks to those savings once restrictions are lifted, which should provide a much-needed boost to the economic recovery.



Grills Are the Latest Fad in a Scorching IPO Market

The searing market for newly public companies has a new obsession: grills.

Two leading sellers of outdoor grills and grilling accessories, Weber and Traeger, both filed paperwork for initial public offerings earlier this month, while online grilling-and-outdoor-products retailer BBQGuys on Tuesday agreed to go public by combining with a special-purpose acquisition company. The merger values BBQGuys at about $960 million.


Property Investors Bed Down in the Family Home

Wall Street firms are more eager than ever to buy family homes. If they snap up existing supply rather than help build new dwellings, they risk killing their latest golden goose.

Last week, Blackstone's real-estate investment trust bought a portfolio of apartments for $5.1 billion from insurer American International Group. In June, the investment firm spent $6 billion on Home Partners of America, a company that owns more than 17,000 houses across the U.S. and offers renters an option to buy. Private-equity giant KKR launched a new division that will buy homes to rent them out, Bloomberg reported.


GOP Senators Resist Raising Debt Ceiling as Democrats Push Biden Spending Plans

WASHINGTON-Top Senate Republicans said the GOP may line up against any effort to raise the government's borrowing limit this year, adding to the uncertainty surrounding how Congress will address the issue after the limit is reinstated next month.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R., S.D.) said at a press conference Wednesday that Democratic plans to advance President Biden's $4 trillion agenda could prompt Republicans to oppose a debt-limit increase, echoing comments Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) made earlier to the media outlet Punchbowl News.


Singapore's GIC Sees Green Shoots in Uncertain Global Environment

Singapore's sovereign-wealth fund GIC Private Ltd. remains cautious on uncertainty related to the pandemic and inflation concerns, but sees new growth opportunities emerging in areas including technology, sustainability and the reconfiguration of global supply chains.

GIC said in its annual report Friday that it expects global economic recovery to continue amid fiscal stimulus and monetary-policy support, albeit at different rates and with a wide range of potential outcomes over the medium- and long-term.


Western Wildfires Lift Lumber Prices

Lumber prices finally cooled off. Now come the fires.

Forest fires raging in the West are threatening an important swath of the U.S.'s wood supply, pinching output that has been under pressure since the Covid-19 pandemic touched off home buying and remodeling booms and sent lumber prices soaring.


China Rejects WHO Proposal for Second Phase of Covid-19 Origins Probe

TAIPEI-China rejects the World Health Organization's proposal for a second phase of investigation into Covid-19's origins, including a potential laboratory leak, and has put forward its own proposal to seek evidence in other countries, a top Chinese official said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented member states last week with a plan for further study that would include audits of laboratories and markets in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were identified. He also called for greater transparency from Beijing.


U.S. Unemployment Benefit Rolls Shrink as States Exit Pandemic Programs

The number of Americans receiving jobless payments fell this month to the lowest level since early in the coronavirus pandemic, but first-time applications rose as supply constraints persist in the auto industry.

Continuing payments made through all unemployment benefit programs fell by 1.3 million in the week ended July 3, to 12.6 million, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was the lowest level since late March 2020, when new programs responding to the pandemic first came online.


Democrats Unify Behind Climate Corps, Vague on Details

A NEW CIVILIAN CLIMATE CORPS has become a central progressive demand for the Democrats' budget reconciliation package, and party leaders seem poised to go along. Climate groups and elected officials alike see it as a combination of several top priorities: a tangible response to climate change, a broad-based jobs program aimed especially at young people and people of color, and a test case for Franklin Delano Roosevelt-style populism that President Biden is so eagerly trying to emulate. Like the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, it would employ Americans on climate-focused public-works projects like reforestation.


Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony to Skip Usual Razzle-Dazzle

TOKYO-The opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday is set to look and feel very different from the bustling celebrations that opened previous Games, with no crowd, no special effects and no stadium-wide synchronized dancing.

Only about half the athletes competing at the Games will be there.


Companies Face Growing Legal Risks Over Ransomware Data Leaks

A cancer patient in Ireland is suing a hospital in Cork after his data was exposed online following a ransomware attack on the country's healthcare system. The suit reflects the legal and financial risks for organizations hit in such cyberattacks.

Legal fallout from ransomware attacks heightens the pain that victim organizations experience after potentially suffering interruptions to business, losing access to data and taking a reputational hit, according to experts. In addition, some companies suffer financial losses and might pay hackers a ransom fee and face regulatory fines for privacy and security violations.


U.S. Vaccine Panel Signals Preliminary Support for Covid-19 Booster Shots

A panel of health experts advising the U.S. government on vaccines expressed preliminary support for giving Covid-19 boosters to immunocompromised people, but said they were waiting for regulatory action before making a formal recommendation.

A work group of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel also on Thursday endorsed the continued use of J&J's vaccine, despite a recent warning about a low risk of a rare neurological disorder among people taking the shot.


New Zealand Halts Quarantine-Free Travel With Australia for Eight Weeks

WELLINGTON, New Zealand-New Zealand will halt quarantine-free travel with Australia for eight weeks because of increased risks from the Covid-19 Delta variant, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday.

The travel bubble with Australia was already halted with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia states, which are battling outbreaks of the virus and together make up about two-thirds of Australia's population.


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


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 23, 2021 06:38 ET (10:38 GMT)

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