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Friday Morning Business Brief

May 23, 2014, 6:12 AM

Friday Morning Business Brief

It's anybody's guess how the stock market will behave on the last day of trading before the long holiday weekend. Yesterday, stocks carved out a modest increase for the second day in a row. The S&P 500 index edged 4 points higher to close at 1,892. The Dow rose 10 points to end at 16,543. And the Nasdaq added 23 points to finish at 4,154. Futures point to modest gains this morning.

  • International stock markets are mostly higher today but Europe's gains were tempered in early trading as a polarized Ukraine braced for weekend elections. Thailand's stock market sank today, a day after the country's military seized power in a nonviolent coup. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose but stayed below $104 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.
     
  • Barclays Bank has been fined by British regulators for management failings that allowed an employee to make inappropriate trades in the gold market. The Financial Conduct Authority imposed a 26 million pound ($43.7 million) fine today. The regulator cited actions taken on June 28, 2012 when an individual trader "exploited the weaknesses in Barclays' system" to influence the gold fixing prices and profit at a customer's expense.
     
  • Standard & Poor's rating agency has upgraded Spain's sovereign credit grade a notch, the third agency to do so in recent months and a further sign the country is turning the corner after five years of economic turmoil. Meanwhile, Fitch ratings agency has upgraded Greece's sovereign debt rating by one notch, citing the country's improved deficit figures.
     
  • A federal grand jury has charged a Japanese executive with conspiring to fix prices on auto parts. According to an indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Hitoshi Hirano fixed prices of heater control panels sold to Toyota Motor Corp. between 2003 and 2010. The indictment also alleges that Hirano tried to destroy documents containing criminal evidence. Hirano is one of 34 people charged in the ongoing investigation into price-fixing in the auto parts industry.

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