In a setback for prosecutors, the Supreme Court today narrowed the scope of a federal fraud law frequently used to go after white-collar crime suspects. The decision could benefit former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and a host of politicians who face charges or have been convicted of “honest services” fraud. The justices were unanimous in imposing limits on the use of the law, but left it to a lower appeals court to determine whether Skilling’s conviction should be overturned.
Companies ramp up spending, fuel economic growth: Companies are spending again, and that could mean better economic times ahead. Businesses have invested more money in machinery, computers, steel and other metals in three of the past four months. The uptick is fueling economic growth in the second quarter and may lead to more jobs later this year.
Banks fear adding mortgage giants to bank bill: Big banks have mounted a last-ditch lobbying effort to kill a House proposal to add ailing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the type of firms that would be subject to liquidation at financial industry expense. House negotiators inserted the provision last week to a massive overhaul of financial regulations at the insistence of Republican lawmakers. Senate negotiators have moved to reject it and will likely succeed.
Stocks retreat as recovery remains sluggish: Stocks and interest rates fell sharply today as investors grew more pessimistic about the economic recovery. Reports on initial jobless claims and durable goods orders contributed to investors’ darker view of the economy. The reports followed the Federal Reserve’s more cautious take on the economic recovery on Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 77 points in afternoon trading. Broader indexes also fell.
Over 2 million cribs recalled amid safety concerns: More than 2 million cribs from Evenflo, Delta Enterprise Corp. and five other companies were recalled today amid concerns that babies can suffocate, become trapped or fall from the cribs. Most of the cribs were drop-sides, which have a side rail that moves up and down so parents can lift children from them more easily. That movable side, however, can malfunction or detach from the crib, creating a dangerous gap where babies’ heads can become trapped, leading to suffocation or strangulation.