Business roundup: Tensions between Russia, Ukraine push down U.S. stocks

August 5
u.s. MARKETS
Tensions in Europe push down stocks

Renewed concerns that tensions could flare between Russian and Ukraine pushed U.S. stocks sharply lower Tuesday.

The market had been moderately lower all day, weighed down by a disappointing earnings forecast from retail giant Target and a report on China that showed the world’s second-largest economy was slowing down.

The selling accelerated in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 200 points but recovered some of those losses in the last 30 minutes of trading.

Several traders pointed to news reports of a buildup of Russian troops on the Ukraine border and comments from a Polish politician that reportedly said Russia was poised to invade or pressure Ukraine’s eastern border as catalysts for the selling.

The Dow lost 139.81 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,429.47, the lowest level for the index since May. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 18.78 points, or 1 percent, to 1,920.21 and the Nasdaq composite fell 31.05 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,352.84.

Tuesday’s losses add to what has been a tough couple of weeks for U.S. markets. The S&P 500 fell 2.7 percent last week, its worst five-day performance since June 2012.

— Associated Press

COURTS
Citigroup settlement approved by judge

A U.S. judge Tuesday reluctantly approved a $285 million fraud settlement between Citigroup and the Securities and Exchange Commission, two months after an appeals court voided his decision to reject it.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said he had little choice but to approve the deal, which did not require the bank to admit to any wrongdoing. But he said he feared the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit would rob such settlements of any “meaningful oversight.”

“That court has now fixed the menu, leaving this court with nothing but sour grapes,” he wrote in a brief opinion outlining his disappointment.

The 2nd Circuit in June ruled that Rakoff had abused his discretion in rebuffing the settlement in November 2011, finding that he had failed to give enough deference to the regulator.

Rakoff had objected to the SEC’s decades-old practice of letting some corporate defendants settle allegations without admitting or denying the charges, a decision credited with altering the public debate over such deals.

Last June, SEC Chair Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor, adopted a policy of requiring admissions in certain major cases, citing the need for more public accountability.

The SEC complaint against Citigroup concerned a 2007 sale of mortgage-linked securities debt that caused more than $700 million of investor losses.

— Reuters

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