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North American Morning Briefing: Stock Futures -2-

Based in New York and Tel Aviv, Pagaya operates an artificial-intelligence network to make financial transactions like lending more efficient and give more people the ability to borrow. Banks and other financial-services providers use its platform, which analyzes troves of data to help partners serve more customers. Pagaya is nearing a deal to combine with SPAC EJF Acquisition Corp., the people said. The merger could be announced as soon as this week.

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Boeing CEO, Board Ask Judge to Clarify Ruling

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun and other current and former directors are asking a Delaware judge to clarify a legal opinion indicating she had found that the plane maker's board "publicly lied" about its handling of the 737 MAX.

In a motion for clarification filed late last week, defense lawyers for Mr. Calhoun and the directors say the judge's Sept. 7 ruling "contains categorical statements that the board and Mr. Calhoun misled the public about the board's safety oversight."

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Big Truckers Say Vaccine Mandate Could Push Drivers Away

Big trucking companies say a federal vaccination and testing mandate aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus could push more workers away from their operations and deepen upheaval in U.S. supply chains.

Executives say the proposed testing requirements for workers who choose not to get vaccinated could also pose challenges for trucking companies whose fleets haul goods long distances, often along irregular routes that send drivers from one corner of the country to another over several days or weeks.

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Inditex Books Swing to 1H Profit as Sales Recover From Pandemic

Industria de Diseno Textil SA continued its momentum in the second quarter, with sales returning above pre-pandemic levels as the Spanish fashion company swung to a net profit for the first half of its fiscal year.

Inditex booked a net profit of 1.27 billion euros ($1.50 billion) in the six months to end-July swinging from a net loss of EUR195 million in the same period last fiscal year. Sales in the half rose almost 50% to EUR11.94 billion. In the second quarter, sales were 7% higher at constant currency than the same period of 2019.

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H&M 3Q Sales Rose on Pandemic Recovery, But Fell Short of Expectations

Sweden's Hennes & Mauritz AB said Wednesday that third-quarter sales grew as stores reopened following the easing of restrictions put in place to combat the pandemic.

The fast-fashion retailer said sales were 55.59 billion Swedish kronor ($6.46 billion) in the three months to Aug. 31. That figure is slightly below estimates of SEK57.23 billion, according to a FactSet poll.

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Consulate Health Affiliates Agree to Put Off Settlement of Whistleblower Suit

Bankrupt affiliates of Florida nursing-home operator LaVie Care Centers LLC agreed to put off seeking court approval of a settlement of a $258 million whistleblower suit after lawyers for the Department of Justice said on Tuesday that the agreement hasn't been finalized.

The affiliates of the LaVie chain, which does business as Consulate Health Care, are facing a lawsuit over allegations that they overbilled U.S. government health programs. In March, CMC II LLC, a back-office manager for Consulate-run nursing homes, along with two affiliated nursing homes filed for bankruptcy, saying they couldn't pay the $258 million judgment.

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Uranium Heats Up, and Hedge Funds Score

Uranium prices are rising, enriching a handful of hedge funds that have been betting a market laid low by a nuclear disaster a decade ago would rebound.

The price of uranium hit an eight-year high of $44 a pound this week, according to the price tracker UxC LLC. The surge follows the recent launch of an exchange-traded trust by Sprott Asset Management LP, which has bought large stockpiles of uranium after raising money from shareholders and emerged as a favored trading vehicle in its own right, traders said.

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China's Economic Recovery Is Looking Gloomier

BEIJING-Growth across a range of Chinese economic indicators pulled back sharply in August, as a new outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta variant and tighter government regulations on the property market hit consumer spending and the housing sector.

Retail sales, a key gauge of China's consumption, rose just 2.5% in August from a year earlier, down sharply from July's 8.5% year-over-year growth, according to data released Wednesday by China's National Bureau of Statistics. The result marked the lowest pace of growth in a year and missed by a large margin the 6.3% increase expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

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High Steel Prices Have Manufacturers Scrounging for Supplies

Manufacturers are facing the highest steel and aluminum prices in years, another hurdle for U.S. companies already struggling to make enough cars, cans and other products.

Rapidly increasing metal costs are pushing manufacturers to take what steel they can get and hire more people to seek out available supplies, company executives said. The rising costs are flowing through to some producers of consumer goods: Campbell Soup Co. is paying more to get the cans it fills with tomato soup; Peloton Interactive Inc. is seeing prices rise for parts that go into its stationary bikes; and Steelcase Inc. is paying more to make metal desks and filing cabinets. Car makers like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are also dealing with rising metal prices.

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Derby's Take: Fed Faces Inflation Cross Currents Ahead of FOMC Meeting

As the Federal Reserve ramps up for its monetary policy meeting next week, it faces some tough cross currents on the inflation front.

The Fed has for some time been up against an unexpected surge in price pressures testing its desire to keep monetary policy on an aggressively supportive footing to help the U.S. economy recover from the body blow of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Some Oil Majors Back Investor Standard for 'Net Zero' Plans

Some big oil companies have thrown their weight behind new investor-backed guidelines for plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions, a move that could make it easier to compare different approaches among energy providers.

BP PLC, Eni SpA, Repsol SA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and TotalEnergies SE said Wednesday they would trial next year the new "Net Zero Standard for Oil and Gas," a 30-page set of guidelines put together by investors and energy companies. The U.S.'s Occidental Petroleum Corp. also gave feedback on the standards, but won't participate in the trial as of now.

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Supply-Chain Strains Hit Prices, Inventories of Artificial Christmas Trees

Supply-chain disruptions will make decking the halls more expensive than ever for consumers looking for artificial trees this Christmas.

Some U.S. retailers are raising prices by 20% to 25% to keep pace with skyrocketing shipping costs and they are warning that certain trees could sell out early because deliveries from overseas producers have been hit by the congestion that has tied up distribution networks from ports in China to freight yards in Chicago.

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UK Annual Inflation Accelerated in August

Annual inflation in the U.K. accelerated in August to its highest level in almost a decade, adding to signs of inflationary pressure as the global economy recovers from the pandemic.

Consumer prices rose 3.2% on the year in August, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday. That was the highest annual rate of inflation since March 2012 and well in excess of the Bank of England's 2% target.

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Democrats Put Off Hard Decisions on $3.5 Trillion Spending Plan for Now

WASHINGTON-Democrats on Capitol Hill have hard choices to make if they want to pass a sprawling package of healthcare, education and climate-change programs without any GOP support. So far, they have avoided making them.

Centrist Senate Democrats are raising concerns over Democratic leaders' plans to assemble a package of $3.5 trillion in spending and tax cuts, even if offset by other sources of revenue and savings. Because Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote from their own caucus in the evenly-split Senate, that means that overall spending level will likely have to come down, either by excluding or shortening the length of some proposed programs.

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Biden to Meet With Top Executives on Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate

WASHINGTON-President Biden is expected to meet Wednesday with executives from companies including Walt Disney Co., Microsoft Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. to advance his Covid-19 vaccination requirements for the private sector.

The White House meeting comes after a plan Mr. Biden announced last week designed to bring the pandemic under control, which includes vaccine requirements affecting roughly 100 million workers. Attendees are expected to discuss how they are expanding requirements at their companies and institutions and how mandates have driven up vaccinations among employees, a White House official said.

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North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles Off Its East Coast

SEOUL-North Korea launched two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, in Pyongyang's second weapons test in recent days.

The missiles splashed into the waters between Korea and Japan. The distance flown and the precise time of launch weren't immediately released by South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. The projectiles didn't enter Japanese territory and weren't believed to have landed inside the nation's exclusive economic zone, Tokyo's military said.

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Gavin Newsom Beats California Recall Effort, Remains Governor

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has easily defeated a recall effort led by Republicans and fueled by frustrations over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a vote projection by the Associated Press.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

September 15, 2021 06:08 ET (10:08 GMT)

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