Lafarge Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Support Islamic State
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French cement firm Lafarge SA pleaded guilty Tuesday in a New York federal court to paying Islamic State and an al Qaeda affiliate to protect its Syrian cement plant, marking what the Justice Department said was the first time it has charged a company with supporting terrorist organizations. Lafarge agreed to pay about $778 million in financial penalties and serve a term of three years probation. The company and its defunct subsidiary, Lafarge Cement Syria, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations. Lafarge admitted that from August 2013 through October 2014 it made payments to terrorist organizations that were intended to protect a $680 million cement facility in northern Syria. Lafarge was acquired by Swiss construction-material giant Holcim Ltd. in 2015. "Today's guilty pleas to terrorism charges by multinational construction conglomerate Lafarge SA and its Syrian subsidiary reflect corporate crime that reached a new low and a very dark place," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference. Lafarge said that it worked with the Justice Department to resolve the matter.
The Swiss stock market ended on a firm note on Tuesday, tracking positive global cues after the UK government's U-turn on recent fiscal measures helped lift sentiment. The benchmark SMI ended with a gain of 80.05 points or 0.76% at 10,578.76, after scaling a low of 10,513.97 and a high of 10,645.71 intraday. Sika surged nearly 3.5%. Holcim surged 2.83%. Geberit, Givaudan, ABB, Partners Group and Lonza Group gained 1.8 to 2.1%. Credit Suisse climbed about 1.6% on reports that the Swiss banking giant has turned to Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds for a capital injection. Richemont and UBS Group both moved up by about 1.5%, and Alcon advanced 1.1%. Roche holding ended slightly weak after posting a 6% decline in quarterly sales. Among the stocks in the Swiss Mid Price Index, Bachem Holding rallied nearly 7%. VAT Group, Ems Chemie Holding, Tecan Group and Georg Fischer gained 3.1 to 4%.
European stocks closed higher on Tuesday, with investors continuing to react positively to the U.K.'s decision to scrap most of Prime Minister Liz Truss's fiscal polices, and on new EU measures to tackle energy prices. Data showing an improvement in German economic sentiment in October helped as well in lifting the mood. Shares of automakers moved higher after industry data showed Europe's new car registrations increased for the second straight month in September. New passenger car registrations grew 9.6% on a yearly basis, following August's 4.4% increase, according to data published by the European Manufacturer's Association. This was the second consecutive increase in sale. The pan European Stoxx 600 gained 0.34%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended higher by 0.24%, Germany's DAX climbed 0.92% and France's CAC 40 moved up 0.44%. Switzerland's SMI gained 0.76%. Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain and Sweden closed with sharp to moderate gains. Austria, Ireland and Netherlands posted modest gains, while Portugal and Turkiye ended weak. In the UK market, Smurfit Kappa Group rallied nearly 6.5%. Rolls-Royce Holdings, Smith (DS), United Utilities Group, CRH, Spirax-Sarco Engineering, Rentokil Initial, Pershing Square Holdings, Halma, Ashtead Group and Smith & Nephew gained 2 to 4%. Harbour Energy and Centrica shed 4.3% and 4%, respectively. Segro, Barratt Developments, Airtel Africa, Rio Tinto, ICP and HSBC Holdings lost 1 to 2.2%.
U.S. stock indexes rose on Tuesday, rallying for a second day as a combination of better-than-expected earnings and an easing of turmoil in U.K. markets lifted investors' confidence. The S&P 500 climbed 42.03 points, or 1.1%, to 3719.98 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 337.98 points, or 1.1%, to 30523.80 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite moved ahead 96.60 points, or 0.9%, to 10772.40. The moves come a day after the major indexes soared. Big swings have become commonplace for U.S. stocks, with the S&P 500 closing up or down at least 2% in the three prior trading sessions. Even with some runs higher, all three indexes remain in a bear market, entered into after a drop of 20% or more from a recent high. On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs rose $7.14, or 2.3%, to $313.85 after it said profits fell in the recent quarter but remained above targets. Lockheed Martin's shares rose $34.53, or 8.7%, to $431.84 after the defense company said its profit rose and maintained its full-year guidance. Meanwhile, shares of Salesforce Inc. rose $6.35, or 4.3%, to $153.53 and Splunk Inc. gained $2.11, or 2.8%, to $76.15 after activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP discussed the firm's stakes in them at a conference. After the market closed, Netflix said it added more than twice as many new subscribers as expected in the last quarter. Shares of the streaming giant rose 16% in recent after-hours trading. United Airlines shares also rose 8.3% in after-hours trading after solid results.
The Asian stock markets are showing slight gains for the most part on Wednesday. Only the Chinese stock markets are lagging behind with markdowns. The party congress of the Communist Party (CP) in China is characterised by traders as disappointing. Despite announcements on economic promotion, little concrete was announced, they say. For the first time in a long time, China will grow more slowly this year than the other economies in Asia, they say. Investors particularly resent the government's rigorous adherence to its zero-covid strategy, as the party congress confirmed its previous policy.
The yields on U.S. government bonds have been climbing higher, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note settling above 4% for the first time since 2008 on Friday. On Tuesday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged lower to 3.996% from 4.012%. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.
CS lowers Sonova to Neutral (Outperform) – Target CHF 270 (335)
UBS lowers the Kardex target to CHF 192 (212) – Buy
JP Morgan lowers the Delivery Hero target to EUR 60 (61) – Overweight
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