- - Sunday, June 26, 2011


Stocks end lower on Europe worries

Stocks fell Friday, giving the market another losing week, after poor earnings reports from two major technology companies suggested that companies invested less in new technology as the economic recovery slowed.

Fears of a spreading European debt crisis also weighed on markets. Italian bank stocks plunged and trading in some of them was halted after Moody’s warned that it might downgrade their credit ratings.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 115.42 points, or 1 percent, to 11,934.58. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 15.05, or 1.2 percent, to 1,268.45. The Nasdaq composite fell 33.86, or 1.3 percent, to 2,652.89.

The decline erased all of this week’s gains for the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P index. The broad stock market has now fallen for seven of the eight last weeks, largely because of concerns that the U.S. economy is slowing and that Europe’s debt problems may lead to another financial crisis. The S&P 500 is down 7 percent since it hit a high for the year April 29.


Former media mogul goes back to prison

CHICAGO — Conrad Black, once a media mogul whose newspaper empire spanned several continents, is headed back to prison after a federal judge ruled Friday that he had not served enough time for defrauding investors.

U.S. Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Black to 3½ years in prison after berating and then praising him. But prosecutors say he will be given credit for more than two years he already had served, meaning the 66-year-old will go back for a little more than a year.

As Judge St. Eve announced the sentence with Black standing expressionless before her, his 70-year-old wife, Barbara Amiel, fainted on a wooden courtroom bench. As she sprawled across the laps of other spectators, medics rushed in to attend to her.

In a 20-minute statement before he was sentenced, Black spoke confidently and philosophically, citing poetry and maintaining he had been falsely accused. At no point did he apologize.


Blackwater founder dismissed from lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed Blackwater founder Erik Prince from a civil lawsuit alleging his former security firm cheated the government in bills it submitted for protecting government employees in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a ruling made public Friday.

Former Blackwater employees Brad and Melan Davis sued Mr. Prince and his company in 2008, alleging the company overbilled the government for its work.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said there is no evidence Mr. Prince participated or had direct knowledge of any of the allegedly false billing invoices.

The case is still scheduled to go to trial next month, with the company itself remaining as a defendant. But the judge has tossed out some of the lawsuit’s claims, including a salacious allegation that Blackwater was billing the government for prostitutes under the category of “morale, welfare and recreation.”

After ruling in May that significant parts of the case should go to trial, Judge Ellis in recent weeks has chipped away at some of the plaintiffs’ claims, tossing out specific allegations and most recently now by dismissing Mr. Prince as a defendant.


Chrysler, Fiat unions join global network

MILAN — As the Fiat and Chrysler automakers go global, so do their unions.

Fiat and Chrysler unions worldwide last week agreed to join in a global network aimed at a constant flow of information and defining a common strategy. The unions said they may try to replicate a worldwide framework agreement for minimum union rights that exists at Volkswagen, Psa-Peugeot and Renault.

“The network is a signal to Fiat that the unions are united,” Enzo Masini, auto coordinator at the FIOM union, said in a statement. “A global company requires a global union.”

Their first common act will be a letter to Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne asking for recognition.

The international network potentially could give workers leverage in national contract negotiations, and a voice in how the two automakers eventually merge. But it could just as well work in management’s favor, analysts said Friday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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