Europe

Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, the frontrunner to replace the outgoing prime minister, said a robust economic recovery leaves room for an expansionary budget in the upcoming election year, Bloomberg News reported. The Harvard-educated Andersson could become the first woman leader in the largest Nordic economy that’s coped with the pandemic much better than most rich peers, helped by robust state finances. Yet she would face a fragmented political system where agreements on changes needed to keep the welfare state afloat are increasingly difficult.
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The French government plans changes to its state-backed financing program for small firms that was designed to fuel investment after the worst of the Covid-19 crisis as it’s met with little success, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, Bloomberg News reported. The financial instruments, known as participative loans, were meant to ween small companies off a reliance on debt by offering a product that has some of the advantages of equity.
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The euro is trading near its lowest level against the dollar in nine months as investors bet that the eurozone will maintain lower interest rates and have a slower economic recovery than the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported. The European Central Bank has indicated that it intends to keep financial conditions loose for the foreseeable future as it cushions the eurozone’s economic recovery. In contrast, Federal Reserve officials have signaled they are on track to begin reversing their easy-money policies later this year.
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A takeover of Morrisons by either of its two suitors could "materially weaken" the security of the supermarket's pension schemes if no additional protection were agreed, the trustees said in a letter to the company published on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The British retailer is at the heart of a $9.5 billion bidding war between U.S. private equity groups Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) and a consortium led by SoftBank owned Fortress Investment Group.
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Britain's competition regulator said on Monday it has started its investigation into whether business information provider S&P Global's $44 billion purchase of London-based peer IHS Markit Ltd would hurt competition, Reuters reported. S&P Global last year agreed to buy IHS Markit, creating a new data powerhouse serving Wall Street and the corporate world. The Competition and Markets Authority said it has set a deadline of Oct. 19 for its phase 1 decision. The regulator had invited comments from interested parties in June.
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Business activity in the euro zone grew strongly this month, only dipping from July's two-decade high monthly pace, as a rapid COVID-19 vaccination drive allowed more firms to reopen and customers to venture out, a survey showed, Reuters reported. Without ongoing supply chain disruptions, activity could have expanded faster, but fears new coronavirus strains may lead to renewed restrictions continued to dent optimism. IHS Markit's Flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index, seen as a guide to economic health, fell to 59.5 in August from 60.2 last month.
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Many train drivers with Germany’s national railway walked off the job on Monday as their union embarked on its second two-day strike this month in a bitter dispute with the company, the Associated Press reported. The GDL union called on passenger train drivers to strike from 2 a.m. Monday to 2 a.m. Wednesday. Freight train drivers already started their strike on Saturday afternoon. Railway operator Deutsche Bahn planned to run about one-quarter of long-distance trains, while about 40% of regional and local services were expected to go ahead.
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A Belfast man is to stand trial in connection with an alleged multimillion-pound banking fraud, a judge ordered on Monday, the Irish Times reported. Ciaran Brendan Barr is accused of multiple offences against his former employer Santander. He is charged with 66 counts of fraud by abuse of position, and two further frauds by false representation. It is alleged that he caused a loss to Santander in relation to applications for banking services made on behalf of companies and individuals. The charges cover a period from March 2013 to February 2018.
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Offshore drilling rig contractors Transocean Ltd and Dolphin Drilling have made a new offer to buy the assets of stricken rival Seadrill Ltd, Dolphin's chief executive said on Friday. Oslo-listed Seadrill, founded by Norwegian-born tycoon John Fredriksen, is seeking to emerge from U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings under an alternative financial plan filed in court last month. Seadrill's Oslo-listed shares traded 5.5% up by 1425 GMT, after jumping about 30% earlier on Friday.
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British retail sales unexpectedly fell in July, official data showed on Friday, suggesting at least some consumers skipped shopping to follow England's run in the Euro 2020 soccer tournament, or stayed at home due to rising COVID-19 cases, Reuters reported. Retailers reported that the tournament - in which England reached the final - and bad weather kept shoppers away from stores, the Office for National Statistics said. Sales volumes fell by 2.5% from June, the biggest drop since January when Britain returned to lockdown.

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