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North American Morning Briefing: Stock Futures -2-

The fabric and crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores LLC said it has spent 10 times more than its historical cost in some cases to move products from one point to another.

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Jobless Claims Likely Remained Near Pandemic Low Last Week

Jobless claims likely held near a pandemic low last week, as layoffs ease despite a rise in coronavirus cases tied to the Delta variant.

Economists expect a Labor Department report on Thursday to show initial unemployment claims rose slightly to 320,000 last week from a pandemic low of 310,000 a week earlier. Delayed filings following Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana at the end of August, could have contributed to a small increase last week, some economists say.

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Elizabeth Warren Calls On Fed Banks to Bar Leaders From Stock Trading

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) is calling on regional Federal Reserve Banks to set rules that would prevent their leaders from trading individual stocks, following recent disclosures that the chiefs of the Boston and Dallas banks actively traded stocks and other investments last year.

"The controversy over asset trading by high-level Fed personnel highlights why it is necessary to ban ownership and trading of individual stocks by senior officials who are supposed to serve the public interest," Ms. Warren wrote in letters addressed to the leaders of the 12 regional Fed banks.

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FTC Moves Toward Stricter Antitrust Scrutiny of Vertical Mergers

WASHINGTON-A divided Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday withdrew guidelines adopted just last year on how the government reviews so-called vertical mergers of companies that don't directly compete with one another, the latest signal the agency is looking to escalate antitrust scrutiny of deal making.

FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, during a virtual public meeting, said she was concerned that the recent Trump-era guidelines gave too much credit to business efficiencies and other potential upsides of vertical mergers while not fully recognizing the harms that some of those deals could create in the marketplace.

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Covid-19 Pandemic Aid Kept Millions of Americans Out of Poverty in 2020

The sweeping financial assistance Congress provided to Americans earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic kept millions from sliding into poverty during the worst economic fallout from the crisis, new census figures show.

The U.S. poverty rate rose in 2020 after five years of annual declines, according to data released by the Census Bureau this week. But the broader Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in some expenses and accounts for a wider range of income-including hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic aid-dropped to a record low 9.1%, marking the first time that yardstick has fallen below the official poverty rate.

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Eurozone Exports Rose on Month in July

Eurozone exports rose in July after six consecutive falls, signaling that international goods trading was on a weak footing despite the easing of most coronavirus-related restrictions.

The European Union's statistics agency said Thursday that the currency area's exports rose by 1.0% in July from June, while imports increased 0.3%, both adjusted for seasonal variations. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus was 13.4 billion euros ($15.8 billion) compared with EUR11.9 billion in June.

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Japan's Exports Rose for Sixth Straight Month in August

Japan's exports climbed by double digits for the sixth straight month in August, driven by strong demand for steel, semiconductor-related products and auto parts in key overseas markets, Ministry of Finance data showed Thursday.

Exports increased 26.2% compared with the same period a year earlier, easing from July's 37% increase. The result was weaker than the 32.2% increase tipped by a FactSet survey of economists.

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U.S. to Share Nuclear Submarine Technology With Australia in New Pact

WASHINGTON-The U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia are creating a new security partnership in the Indo-Pacific, building on the longstanding alliance between the three to share intelligence, deepen cooperation and help Australia to build nuclear-powered submarine capabilities as China's influence grows.

The new agreement, announced Wednesday by leaders of the three countries, was described by administration officials as a way to line up common interests in the Asia Pacific.

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Parents Seek Out Covid-19 Vaccine Trials for Their Children Ahead of Official Authorization

Rachael DiFransico's 14-month-old daughter Sybil chewed on a plastic toy at a doctor's office in the Cleveland suburbs while waiting one recent day to enroll in a study testing whether a Covid-19 vaccine works safely in children.

"This trial is our best shot at getting the vaccine as quickly as possible," said Ms. DiFransico, who said she wanted Sybil to be able to spend more time with other children and extended family. "We want some semblance of normalcy for her."

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Drug-Prices Measure Splinters House Democrats

WASHINGTON-Democratic divisions spilled into the open Wednesday over how to lower prescription drug prices as part of a broader $3.5 trillion budget package, signaling the challenge Democratic leaders face ironing out internal disagreements over a marquee component of the legislation.

Democratic Reps. Scott Peters of California, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Kathleen Rice of New York voted against a measure enabling Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs in a House Energy and Commerce Committee vote Wednesday, preventing it from advancing when the panel deadlocked in a 29-29 tie.

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Afghan Refugees on U.S. Military Bases Wait to Begin Their New Lives in America

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany-In between the threat of Taliban violence and the promise of American freedom lies this large military installation, which has become a conduit between two worlds for thousands of Afghans.

Many of the Afghans arriving here say they were both hopeful and shellshocked from split-second decisions to leave home, probably forever, and head to the U.S. They are being met by U.S. military personnel, whose missions were transformed overnight from fighting on the front lines to embracing evacuees fleeing the end of nearly 20 years of war.

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Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

TODAY IN CANADA

Earnings:

Nothing major scheduled

Economic Indicators (ET):

0815 Aug Housing Starts

0830 Jul International transactions in securities

0830 Jul Wholesale trade

Stocks to Watch:

Canadian Pacific Reaches $27 Billion Deal to Buy Kansas City Southern

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. clinched a deal to take over Kansas City Southern, as a rival dropped its pursuit of the highly coveted railroad after a monthslong battle.

The $27 billion agreement, if completed, would be the first major merger in the industry in the U.S. in about two decades and would create the first freight rail network linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern had reached a $25 billion deal in March before the rival, Canadian National Railway Co., submitted a roughly $30 billion topping bid. That prompted Kansas City Southern to switch partners, before a regulatory panel that must bless railroad mergers denied Canadian National's plans to use a temporary voting trust, a key element of its proposal.

In the wake of that decision, Kansas City Southern on Sunday said it favored a sweetened cash-and-stock offer from Canadian Pacific, which had already received the go-ahead for a similar trust. Canadian National then had five business days to improve its offer or walk away.

In a statement on its decision not to continue pursuing the deal, Canadian National said the U.S. regulatory landscape has become more challenging for major railroad mergers since its bid was launched. It referred to an executive order from President Biden in July that focused on maintaining and increasing competition in key sectors, including the largest railroads, and suggested the shift could pose an issue for Canadian Pacific.

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.

The turnaround in the nuclear fuel, whose price declined sharply after the 2011 nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan, has bolstered shares of miners including Cameco Corp. and Denison Mines Corp. of Canada, and Texas-based Uranium Energy Corp. That boost has benefited hedge funds including Segra Capital Management and Sachem Cove Partners, which have been betting that uranium would bounce back.

Traders say the surge in uranium, an element that when enriched is manufactured into rods that fuel nuclear power plants, in some respects echoes the 2021 rise in shares of GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. Hedge funds and family offices are among those to have invested in the newly listed trust. Traders say interest from individual investors is also helping to drive prices in a market that largely comprises private agreements between buyers and sellers, rather than the open price discovery of larger markets such as oil and gold.

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CP/KSU Deal Good for All Parties, Railway Sector

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September 16, 2021 06:10 ET (10:10 GMT)

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