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Wall Street is drifting a bit higher Monday following its latest record-setting week.

The S&P 500 was up 0.2% in midday trading after closing Friday above the 5,000 level for the first time, its latest milestone in a record-setting run that began in October. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 57 points, or 0.1%, as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Nasdaq composite was 0.4% higher to pull within 0.1% of its record set in 2021.

Conditions are calm across markets, with yields also moving relatively little in the bond market. The next big event for the market could be Tuesday’s update on inflation across the United States, which economists expect to show a drop back below the 3% level.

In the meantime, Diamondback Energy climbed 10% after it said it would buy Endeavor Energy Resources in a deal valued at roughly $26 billion, including Endeavor’s debt. Diamondback is using both cash and stock to pay for the purchase of the privately held exploration and production company.

Trimble rose 4.8% after the technology provider reported stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. The company, whose products are used in the construction, mapping and other industries, shook off an earlier loss after it also gave a forecast for revenue over 2024 that fell short of Wall Street’s estimates.

Big companies in the S&P 500 have mostly been reporting better results than expected for the final three months of 2023. More than two thirds of the companies in the index have already reported their results, but several big names are still to come this upcoming week. They include Coca-Cola on Tuesday, Kraft Heinz on Wednesday and Southern Co. on Thursday.

The smallest companies in the market, meanwhile, are still in the relatively early days of their profit reporting season. But they’ve been beating analysts’ expectations by even more than their big rivals, according to Bank of America strategists.

Worries have grown about how top-heavy the stock market has become, where the seven biggest companies have accounted for a disproportionate amount of the S&P 500’s rally to a record. If more companies aside from the group known as the “Magnificent Seven” can deliver strong profit growth, it could soften the criticism that the market has become too expensive.


A South Korean court on Monday acquitted Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong of financial crimes involving a contentious merger between Samsung affiliates in 2015 that tightened his grip over South Korea’s biggest company.

The ruling by the Seoul Central District Court could ease the legal troubles surrounding the Samsung heir less than two years after he was pardoned of a separate conviction of bribery in a corruption scandal that helped topple a previous South Korean government.

The court said the prosecution failed to sufficiently prove the merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was unlawfully conducted with an aim to strengthen Lee’s control over Samsung Electronics.

The ruling was criticized by activists, progressive politicians and commentators, who questioned how Lee could be innocent of all charges when he had previously been convicted in the separate case of bribing a former president while seeking government support for the merger. The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea’s biggest civic group, said the court failed to display “even a minimal level of social justice” by putting Lee’s interests before those of shareholders and pensioners, whose retirement funds were possibly reduced by the deal, which was endorsed by the National Pension Service.

It described the ruling as a setback for years of efforts to reform the management culture of South Korea’s family-owned conglomerates and their cozy ties with the government. South Korean corporate leaders often receive relatively lenient punishments for corruption, business irregularities and other crimes, with judges often citing concerns over the country’s economy.

Prosecutors had sought a five-year jail term for Lee, who was accused of stock price manipulation and accounting fraud. It wasn’t immediately clear whether they would appeal. Lee denied wrongdoing in the current case, describing the 2015 merger as “normal business activity.”

Lee, 55, did not answer questions from reporters as he left the court. You Jin Kim, Lee’s lawyer, praised the ruling, saying it confirmed that the merger was legal.

Lee, a third-generation corporate heir who was officially appointed chairman of Samsung Electronics in October 2022, has led the Samsung group of companies since 2014, when his late father, former chairman Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack.

Lee Jae-yong served 18 months in prison after being convicted in 2017 over separate bribery charges related to the 2015 deal. He was originally sentenced to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won ($6.4 million) worth of bribes to then-President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante to win government support for the 2015 merger, which was key to strengthening his control over the Samsung business empire and solidifying the father-to-son leadership succession.

Park and her confidante were also convicted in the scandal, and enraged South Koreans staged massive protests for months demanding an end to shady ties between business and politics. The demonstrations eventually led to Park’s ouster from office.

Lee was released on parole in 2021 and pardoned by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in August 2022, in moves that extended a history of leniency toward major white-collar crime in South Korea and preferential treatment for convicted tycoons.

Some shareholders had opposed the 2015 merger, saying it unfairly benefited the Lee family while hurting minority shareholders.


A Hong Kong court ordered China Evergrande, the world’s most heavily indebted real estate developer, to undergo liquidation following a failed effort to restructure $300 billion owed to banks and bondholders that fueled fears about China’s rising debt burden.

“It would be a situation where the court says enough is enough,” Judge Linda Chan said Monday. She said it was appropriate for the court to order Evergrande to wind up its business given a “lack of progress on the part of the company putting forward a viable restructuring proposal” as well as Evergrande’s insolvency.

China Evergrande Group is among dozens of Chinese developers that have collapsed since 2020 under official pressure to rein in surging debt the ruling Communist Party views as a threat to China’s slowing economic growth. But the crackdown on excess borrowing tipped the property industry into crisis, dragging on the economy and rattling financial systems in and outside China.

Chinese regulators have said the risks of global shockwaves from Evergrande’s failure can be contained. The court documents seen Monday showed Evergrande owes about $25.4 billion to foreign creditors. Its total assets of about $240 billion are dwarfed by its total liabilities.

“It is indisputable that the company is grossly insolvent and is unable to pay its debts,” the documents say.

About 90% of Evergrande’s business is in mainland China. Its chairman, Hui Ka Yan, who is also known as Xu Jiayin, was detained by authorities for suspected “illegal crimes” in late September, further complicating the company’s efforts to recover.

It’s unclear how the liquidation order will affect China’s financial system or Evergrande’s operations as it struggles to deliver housing that has been paid for but not yet handed over to families that put their life savings into such investments.

Evergrande’s Hong Kong-traded shares plunged nearly 21% early Monday before they were suspended from trading. But Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index was up 0.9% and some property developers saw gains in their share prices.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a court order to take effect that could loosen Apple’s grip on its lucrative iPhone app store, and potentially affect billions of dollars in revenue a year.

The justices rejected Apple’s appeal of lower-court rulings that found some of Apple’s app store rules for apps purchased on more than 1 billion iPhones constitute unfair competition under California law.

The appeal stemmed from an antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games, maker of the popular Fortnite video game. Epic lost its broader claim that Cupertino, California-based Apple was violating federal antitrust law, and the justices also rejected Epic’s appeal Tuesday.

But in turning away Apple’s plea, the court lifted a hold on an order to allow app developers throughout the U.S. to insert links to other payment options besides its own within iPhone apps. That change would make it easier for developers to avoid paying Apple’s commissions.

Epic, based in Cary, North Carolina, had claimed that Apple’s app store — which was launched in 2008, a year after the first iPhone went on sale — had turned into an illegal monopoly that stifles innovation and competition while generating billions of dollars in profit for Apple.

Epic tried to offer an alternative way to get its mobile app, attempting to evade the developer fees inside the app store, which collects a commission of 15% to 30% on subscriptions and other digital transactions.

Apple ousted Epic from its app store after it tried to get around restrictions that Apple says protect the security and privacy of iPhone users while also helping to recoup some of the investment that powers one of the world’s most ubiquitous devices.

Last month, Epic won a jury trial against Google and its Play Store for apps on Android phones in a lawsuit mirroring its action against Apple. A federal judge still must determine what changes Google will have to make to its Play Store.


Amazon is disputing its status as a big online platform that needs to face stricter scrutiny under European Union digital rules taking effect next month, the first Silicon Valley tech giant to push back on the pioneering new standards.

The online retailer filed a legal challenge with a top European Union court, arguing it’s being treated unfairly by being designated a “very large online platform” under the 27-nation bloc’s sweeping Digital Services Act.

Amazon, whose filing to the European General Court was made available Tuesday, is the second company to protest the classification. German online retailer Zalando filed a legal claim two weeks ago with a similar argument.

The Digital Services Act imposes new obligations on the biggest tech companies to keep users safe from illegal content and dodgy products, with violations punishable by potentially billions in fines or even a ban on operating in the EU.

The rules, which will take effect on Aug. 25, are expected to help Europe maintain its place as standard setter in global efforts to rein in the power of social media companies and other digital platforms.

Seattle-based Amazon is one of 19 companies classed as the largest online platforms and search engines under the DSA, which means they will have to better police their services to protect European users from hate speech, disinformation and other harmful online content.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, declined to comment directly on the case, saying it would defend its position in court.


A French court on Monday acquitted Airbus and Air France of manslaughter charges over the 2009 crash of Flight 447 from Rio to Paris, which killed 228 people and led to lasting changes in aircraft safety measures.

Sobs broke out in the courtroom as the presiding judge read out the decision, a devastating defeat for victims’ families who fought for 13 years to see the case reach court.

The three-judge panel ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence of a direct link between decisions by the companies and the crash. The official investigation found that multiple factors contributed to the disaster, including pilot error and the icing over of external sensors called pitot tubes.

“We are sickened. The court is telling us, ‘go on, there’s not a problem here, there’s nothing to see,’” said Danièle Lamy, who lost her son Eric in the crash and heads an association for families of victims.

“For the powerful, impunity reigns. Centuries pass, and nothing changes,” she said. “The families of victims are mortified and in total disarray.”

While the court didn’t find the companies guilty of criminal wrongdoing, the judges said that Airbus and Air France held civil responsibility for the damages caused by the crash, and ordered them to compensate families of victims. It didn’t provide an overall amount, but scheduled hearings in September to work that out.

Air France has already compensated families of those killed, who came from 33 countries. Families from around the world are among the plaintiffs, including many in Brazil.

The two-month trial left families wracked with anger and disappointment. Unusually, even state prosecutors argued for acquittal, saying that the proceedings didn’t produce enough proof of criminal wrongdoing by the companies.


The United Nations’ top court on Thursday rejected Tehran’s legal bid to free up some $2 billion in Iranian central bank assets frozen by U.S. authorities to be paid in compensation to victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks linked to Iran.

In a 10-5 majority ruling, the International Court of Justice said it did not have jurisdiction to rule on the Iranian claim linked to the central Markazi Bank.

The world court’s vice-president, Kirill Gevorgian, said the majority “upholds the objection to jurisdiction raised by the United States of America relating to the claims of the Islamic Republic of Iran” related to the bank.

In a complex, 67-page judgment, the world court also found that some other U.S. moves to seize assets of Iran and Iranians in the United States breached a 1955 treaty between the countries and said they should negotiate compensation. If they fail to reach a number, they will have to return to the Hague-based court for a ruling.

But the largest part of the case focused on Bank Markazi, and its frozen assets of $1.75 billion in bonds, plus accumulated interest, that are held in a Citibank account in New York. The court said that it did not have jurisdiction based on the 1955 Treaty of Amity because the protections it offers do not extend to central banks.

Teams of lawyers present for both countries at Thursday’s hearing did not comment on the ruling.

At hearings last year, Iran cast the asset freeze as an attempt to destabilize the Tehran government and a violation of international law.

Iran took its claim to the world court in 2016 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that money belonging to Iran’s central bank could be used as compensation for the 241 American troops who died in the 1983 bombing, which was believed to be linked to Tehran.

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