- Chinese policymakers banned shareholders with stakes exceeding 5% from selling stocks for the next six months, in a desperate attempt to put a floor under mainland China stocks, which have lost about 30% in the past month alone, following a prolonged rally. The move, together with a report by state-owned news agency Xinghua that Chinese police will probe "malicious shorting" of stocks, lifted stock prices.
- Some Greek banks will have to be either shut down or taken over by stronger rivals even if there is a bailout, Reuters reports citing European officials. One official said that Greece's four big banks -- National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Piraeus and Alpha Bank -- could be reduced to just two, a measure that would doubtless encounter fierce resistance in Athens. A second person said that although mergers of banks were necessary, this could happen over the longer term.
- Alcoa (AA) is upbeat for the rest of this year despite reporting lower than expected profits, the Financial Times reports. Earnings per share of $0.19 were below analyst estimates of around $0.23, but revenues were slightly stronger than expected, at $5.9 billion.
- U.K. house prices jumped again in June, when the average number of houses in stock for property surveyors fell to the lowest level since the late 1970s. Hopes that more clarity on policies after the May election will mean more properties coming to the market have not materialized so far; in a budget statement on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne cut the tax relief for buy-to-let mortgage interest payments.
- AstraZeneca (AZN) divested its gastro-intestinal drug Entocort for $215 million, by selling rights outside the U.S. to Tillotts Pharma, part of the Zeria Group. Entocort, or budesonide, is used to treat patients with mild to moderate Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It is sold in more than 40 countries and had sales of $53 million outside the United States in 2014.
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