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North American Morning Briefing: Tech Stock -2-

Starbucks Corp. said rising costs of supplies and wages will continue to weigh on the coffee giant's profit in the months ahead after pandemic-related restrictions reappeared in the U.S. and overseas.

The Seattle-based chain said holiday sales helped boost its business in its most recent quarter, though higher-than-expected inflation, a tight labor market and cost increases driven by the Covid-19 Omicron variant limited results.

   
 
 

Pfizer Asks FDA to Authorize Its Covid-19 Vaccine for Young Children

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE asked U.S. health regulators to authorize use of their Covid-19 vaccine in children under 5 years, the last age group without access to the shots.

The application, which the companies said they began submitting to the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, could lead to the shots becoming available in March for children ages 6 months to under 5 years.

   
 
 

Native American Tribes Reach $590 Million Opioid Settlement With J&J, Drug Distributors

Johnson & Johnson and three major U.S. drug distributors agreed to pay nearly $590 million to Native American tribes heavily affected by the opioid crisis to resolve litigation against the companies.

Under the settlement, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $150 million to tribes over two years. Distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp., McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc. will pay more than $439.9 million over seven years. It is separate from a previous $75 million settlement reached between the distributors and the Cherokee Nation.

   
 
 

SeaWorld Looks to Buy Fellow Theme Park Operator Cedar Fair

Cedar Fair LP said SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has proposed a deal that would combine two theme park operators as the entertainment industry plots its future amid Covid-19 uncertainty.

Cedar Fair, whose parks include Cedar Point in Ohio, Knott's Berry Farm in California and Schlitterbahn in Texas, confirmed Tuesday that it received an unsolicited nonbinding proposal from SeaWorld. Bloomberg, citing people with knowledge of the matter, earlier reported that SeaWorld Entertainment offered to buy Cedar Fair for about $3.4 billion, or about $60 a share.

   
 
 

Consumers Are Pivoting Spending to Services Like Dining and Travel

Americans responded to the pandemic with a dramatic shift in spending to goods from services. That now appears to be reversing and should gather steam as the Omicron wave of Covid-19 ebbs, economists say.

Consumers shopped more online in the pandemic, and changed what they bought. Unable to eat out or travel, and with both school and work going remote, they splurged more on things for the home such as furniture and computers. Several rounds of federal stimulus amplified that spending spree.

   
 
 

Activist Investors Take Aim at U.K. Inc.

U.S. and European activist investors are targeting some of the U.K.'s biggest publicly traded companies, taking advantage of slumping stock prices to push for company breakups and other changes.

Florida-based hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. is making waves at U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC and SSE PLC, an electricity network and alternative energy provider. Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC is calling for a breakup of Shell PLC. And Trian Fund Management LP, another well-known U.S. activist hedge fund, headed by Nelson Peltz, owns a stake in Unilever PLC, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

   
 
 

AI Could Cut Hiring Biases as Companies Make Push to Find Workers, Proponents Say

The use of artificial intelligence to aid in companies' sensitive decision making has long made U.S. regulators wary, particularly for its potential to supercharge human bias.

But as worker shortages prompt widespread recruitment pushes, AI proponents say the technology, far from being risky, could help companies make hiring decisions fairer-not just faster.

   
 
 

Eurozone Inflation Hits Record High

The eurozone's annual rate of inflation rose further in January, beating forecasts for a deceleration and marking the highest print in history.

Consumer prices rose 5.1% on year in January after a 5.0% rise in December, according to a first estimate released Wednesday by Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal forecast eurozone inflation at 4.3% on year in January.

   
 
 

U.S. National Debt Exceeds $30 Trillion for First Time

WASHINGTON-The U.S. national debt exceeded $30 trillion for the first time, reflecting increased federal borrowing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Total public debt outstanding was $30.01 trillion as of Jan. 31, according to Treasury Department data released Tuesday. That was a nearly $7 trillion increase from late January 2020, just before the pandemic hit the U.S. economy.

   
 
 

AMC Stock Jumps on Revenue Guidance for Holiday Quarter

Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. jumped as much as 13% in premarket trading after the company posted preliminary fourth-quarter results that showed revenue topping analyst expectations.

Chief Executive Adam Aron said the quarterly results will be the company's strongest since before the Covid-19 pandemic gutted the movie-theater industry almost two years ago.

   
 
 

Payments to U.S. Brokers Surged Amid Meme-Stock and Options Boom

Brokerages serving individual investors received a windfall last year for selling their customers' order flow to electronic trading firms, even as the practice faced increasing scrutiny from regulators.

The dozen largest U.S. brokerages earned a combined $3.8 billion for selling their customers' stock and options orders last year, up 33% from 2020, according to new data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence and released Tuesday.

   
 
 

Winter Storm to Disrupt Central U.S. With Snow, Sleet and Ice

A storm heading for the central U.S. threatens to bring heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain to a wide swath of the country this week.

Blizzard and winter storm warnings are in effect from New Mexico to Ohio, according to the National Weather Service.

   
 
 

Trump Fires Back in New York Subpoena Fight

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump and two of his adult children argued Tuesday that the New York state attorney general's office had targeted them unfairly in its civil-fraud investigation and subpoenaed information that could be improperly used in a separate criminal probe.

The arguments came in a dispute over subpoenas New York Attorney General Letitia James issued to Mr. Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. seeking their testimony and the former president's personal and business documents for the civil-fraud probe into Mr. Trump and his company. Lawyers for the Trumps have asked a New York state judge to block the subpoenas or put them on hold until a parallel criminal investigation conducted by the Manhattan district attorney's office has concluded.

   
 
 

Trump's Comments Fuel Bipartisan Effort to Clarify Role of Vice President in Elections

WASHINGTON-A bipartisan effort to clarify the vice president's role in certifying election results is gaining momentum and potentially expanding to include other areas of voting law, fueled by recent comments from former President Donald Trump that his former vice president should have overturned the result of the 2020 election.

Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) is leading a group of 16 senators in negotiations focused on overhauling the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, or ECA. The push, emerging from the ashes of a broader Democratic voting-access bill that was blocked by Republicans, comes as members of both parties fear a replay of the contentious 2020 Electoral College process, when Mr. Trump refused to concede defeat and falsely blamed voting fraud for his loss.

   
 
 

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

TODAY IN CANADA

Earnings:

ATS Automation Tling (ATA.T) 3Q

Brookfield Infras Ptrns (BIP.U.T) 4Q

CGI Inc. Class A (GIB.A.T) 1Q

Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.T)

Economic Indicators (ET):

0830 Dec Building permits

1500 Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem appears by videoconference before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce

   
 
 

Expected Major Events for Wednesday

00:01/UK: Jan Shop Price Index

09:30/UK: Jan Narrow money (Notes & Coin) and reserve balances

10:00/ITA: Jan Cities CPI

10:00/ITA: Jan Provisional CPI

12:00/US: 01/28 MBA Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey

13:15/US: Jan ADP National Employment Report

13:30/CAN: Dec Building permits

15:00/US: 4Q U.S. Housing Vacancies

15:00/US: Dec Metropolitan Area Employment & Unemployment

15:30/US: 01/28 EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report

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

   
 
 

Expected Earnings for Wednesday

ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc (ATA.T) is expected to report $0.29 for 3Q.

AbbVie Inc (ABBV) is expected to report $2.10 for 4Q.

Allegheny Technologies Inc (ATI) is expected to report $0.09 for 4Q.

AmerisourceBergen Corp (ABC) is expected to report $2.29 for 1Q.

Avery Dennison Corp (AVY) is expected to report $2.11 for 4Q.

Boston Scientific (BSX) is expected to report $0.28 for 4Q.

Brinker International (EAT) is expected to report $0.53 for 2Q.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP (BIP,BIP.UN.T) is expected to report for 4Q.

CGI Inc - Class A (GIB,GIB.A.T) is expected to report $1.44 for 1Q.

CH Robinson Worldwide (CHRW) is expected to report $1.82 for 4Q.

Capri Holdings Ltd (CPRI) is expected to report $1.80 for 3Q.

Carpenter Technology (CRS) is expected to report $-0.50 for 2Q.

D.R. Horton (DHI) is expected to report $2.80 for 1Q.

Dynatrace Inc (DT) is expected to report for 3Q.

Emerson Electric (EMR) is expected to report $0.90 for 1Q.

Evercore Inc (EVR) is expected to report $4.32 for 4Q.

Ford Motor Company (F) is expected to report.

Hayward Holdings Inc (HAYW) is expected to report for 4Q.

Howmet Aerospace Inc (HWM) is expected to report for 4Q.

Humana Inc (HUM) is expected to report $1.04 for 4Q.

IES Holdings Inc (IESC) is expected to report for 1Q.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 02, 2022 06:12 ET (11:12 GMT)

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