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EMEA Morning Briefing: Stocks to Open Higher as -2-

Soaring natural-gas prices in Britain have prompted U.S. fertilizer maker CF Industries Holdings Inc. to close two U.K. plants, in a sign that Europe's energy crunch is affecting industry as the economy struggles with several other disruptions amid the recovery from the pandemic.

Businesses across Britain are complaining about high energy costs, with some steelmakers forced to halt production for periods during the day as the price of electricity rises almost seven times higher than at the same point last year. Power markets have also jumped in France, the Netherlands and Germany, ahead of anticipated higher demand in the winter.

   
 
 

China Casts Itself as Ally to Workers in Battle With Big Tech

HONG KONG-China's communist state has made a show in recent months of supporting the lowest-level workers in the country's bare-knuckle tech industry, an emerging plank in leader Xi Jinping's campaign to shrink the country's wealth gap and usher in a new era of "common prosperity."

The moves also bolster a sweeping effort by Mr. Xi to exert more control over one of the nation's few strategic sectors that is dominated by private capital.

   
 
 

U.S. Economy Shows Resilience During Delta Surge

The U.S. economy is proving resilient in the face of the Delta variant.

Americans briskly increased spending at retailers last month, while employers have largely resisted the urge to lay off workers, the government reported Thursday, both signs of strong demand in the economy.

   
 
 

U.S. Jobless Claims Remained Near Pandemic Low Last Week

Jobless claims rose slightly last week but remained near a pandemic low, as layoffs stabilize amid an economic slowdown tied to rising coronavirus cases.

Initial unemployment claims rose to 332,000 last week from a pandemic low of 312,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Layoffs due to Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana at the end of August, appeared to contribute to the small claims increase, economists said.

   
 
 

Italy to Impose Strict Covid-19 Health Pass for All Workers

ROME-Italy is making Covid-19 health passes mandatory for all workers in the private and public sectors, in one of the toughest vaccine-promoting measures adopted by any major Western country.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government passed a decree Thursday requiring workers, including those who are self-employed, to have a digital certificate known as a green pass. This shows a person has been fully vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid-19 or has freshly tested negative for the virus.

   
 
 

Hezbollah Brings Iranian Fuel to Lebanon as Shortages Deepen Crisis

BEIRUT-A convoy of trucks carrying Iranian fuel rolled into Lebanon from Syria on Thursday, a delivery arranged by Tehran-allied Hezbollah to help alleviate a domestic energy crisis and contain growing public anger against the ruling elite over the country's economic collapse.

The powerful militant and political group brought the fuel in via Syria in a likely effort to avoid embroiling Lebanon in U.S. sanctions targeting Iranian oil exports.

   
 
 

France Calls U.S.-Australia Submarine Deal a Betrayal

France said it had been betrayed by the U.S. after being pushed out of a multibillion-dollar deal to supply submarines to Australia, in a public rupture between NATO allies that is shaping up to be among the most bitter trans-Atlantic disputes of the Biden administration's first year.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday called the U.S.-backed deal a "stab in the back." President Biden on Wednesday announced a new security pact with Australia and the U.K. that would include a long-term agreement to build nuclear-powered submarines for Australia. Australia on Thursday confirmed it was withdrawing from the French contract.

   
 
 

France Says It Has Killed Islamic State Leader Responsible for Deaths of U.S. Soldiers

France said Thursday it had killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the Islamic State leader who led the killing of four U.S. servicemen in Niger in 2017 and was the architect of one of the terrorist outfit's most successful franchises following the group's loss of its Middle East territories.

"This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel," French President Emmanuel Macron said, referring to the vast semiarid region south of the Sahara that has become home to some of the world's most deadly jihadist cells.

   
 
 

Without Angela Merkel, Germany's Conservatives Face Possible Election Rout

This is Germany's first general election without Angela Merkel running for chancellor since 2002. For her conservative bloc, it is shaping up as a debacle.

A gaffe-prone new candidate, the popular chancellor's almost complete absence from the campaign, and voter fatigue after 16 years of conservative rule could converge to deliver the bloc's worst national electoral result ever, according to pollsters and analysts.

   
 
 

Former Boeing Pilot Expected to Face Prosecution in 737 MAX Probe

Federal prosecutors plan to criminally charge a former Boeing Co. pilot they suspect of misleading aviation regulators about safety issues blamed for two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mark Forkner, who was Boeing's 737 MAX chief technical pilot during the aircraft's development, is likely to face prosecution in the coming weeks, these people said. In his former role, Mr. Forkner served as the plane maker's lead contact with the Federal Aviation Administration for how airline pilots should be trained to fly the new jet.

   
 
 

Invesco in Talks to Merge With State Street's Asset-Management Business

Invesco Ltd. is in talks to merge with State Street Corp.'s asset-management business, people familiar with the matter said.

A deal isn't imminent, and the discussions might not result in an agreement, the people said. It isn't clear what the terms of a potential deal would look like, but it would likely be one of the industry's biggest in recent memory, given State Street's asset-management unit manages nearly $4 trillion in assets.

   
 
 

U.S. Steel Plans New U.S. Mill as Prices Surge

United States Steel Corp. said it plans to begin construction of a new steel mill in the U.S. next year, as the company chases rising demand from a rebounding manufacturing sector.

The Pittsburgh-based company said Thursday the new mill will have the capacity to produce three million tons of sheet steel annually, boosting its sheet-steel capacity by about 20% and helping to alleviate tight supplies of steel in the domestic market. The U.S. Steel mill would increase new production capacity under construction or planned in the U.S. to about 12 million tons annually, or almost 21% of sheet-steel consumption in 2019.

   
 
 

GM Plans to Idle Factories Longer Amid Chip Shortage

General Motors Co. is extending its plans to idle some of its North American factories, compounding the effects of the world-wide semiconductor shortage on the auto maker's production.

The company said Thursday it will add to scheduled downtime at seven plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The move builds upon curtailments that have slammed GM and the broader auto industry throughout the year as supply constraints on computer chips continue to hold back car production.

   
 
 

Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company's Response Is Weak, Documents Show.

In January, a former cop turned Facebook Inc. investigator posted an all-staff memo on the company's internal message board. It began "Happy 2021 to everyone!!" and then proceeded to detail a new set of what he called "learnings." The biggest one: A Mexican drug cartel was using Facebook to recruit, train and pay hit men.

The behavior was shocking and in clear violation of Facebook's rules. But the company didn't stop the cartel from posting on Facebook or Instagram, the company's photo-sharing site.

   
 
 

SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Wraps Up First Day in Space

The first all-civilian crew to orbit the Earth traveled nearly six times around the planet during the mission of Elon Musk's company, SpaceX.

The four-person crew aboard the Crew Dragon space capsule made history Wednesday evening when a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

   
 
 

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

   
 
 

Expected Major Events for Friday

06:00/UK: Aug UK monthly retail sales figures

06:00/ROM: 2Q Employment and unemployment

07:00/SVK: Aug Harmonized CPI

07:00/AUT: Aug CPI

08:00/POL: Aug Average gross wages

08:00/EU: Jul Euro area balance of payments

08:30/UK: Aug Bank of England/Kantar Inflation Attitudes Survey

08:30/UK: 2Q Bank of England statistics on UK banks' external claims

09:00/CRO: Aug CPI

09:00/MLT: Aug Harmonised CPI

09:00/CYP: Aug Harmonised CPI

09:00/EU: Aug Harmonised CPI

09:00/EU: Jul Construction output

09:00/ITA: Jul Balance of Payments

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

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 17, 2021 00:15 ET (04:15 GMT)

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