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Stocks edge lower on growth worries

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U.S. stocks started the week lower, adding on to their losses from Friday when all three major benchmarks recorded their worst one-day drop since Jan. 3. The losses come on the coattails of the inversion of the three-month and 10-year Treasury yield curve, which can be an early recession indicator, and happened for the first one since 2007 on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened 0.1% lower at 25,474, while the S&P 500 started 0.2% weaker at 2,796. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3% to 7,622 at the open. In individual stocks, Apple Inc. was in focus ahead of a "special event" on Monday that is expected to include the unveiling its streaming-media service, as well as updates to existing products.

Curis' stock rockets on heavy volume after $135.7 million deal to sell portion of Erivedge royalties

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Shares of Curis Inc. rocketed 93% in very active premarket trade Monday, after the biotechnology company said it reached an agreement to sell a portion of royalties of its Erivedge cancer treatment for up to $135.7 million to funds managed by Oberland Capital Management LLC. Volume swelled to 1.8 million shares ahead of the open, compared with the full-day average of about 174,000 shares. Under terms of the deal, Curis received $65 million upfront, and is entitled to receive up to an additional $70.7 million in milestone payments if future royalties exceed pre-determined thresholds. In comparison, the company reported a third-quarter net loss of $7.22 million and revenue of $2.85 million. "We believe this structure provides Curis with substantial non-dilutive capital today, while retaining significant participation in the future upside potential of Erivedge," Curis Chief Executive James Dentzer said. "The proceeds of this transaction further strengthen our cash position as we fund our three lead therapeutic candidates to reach their near term development catalysts and beyond." Thes tock has tumbled 60% over the past 12 months through Friday, while the iShares Biotechnology ETF has tacked on 2.7% and the S&P 500 has gained 8.2%.

Avocados recalled after listeria potential

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Henry Avocado Corp. has issued a voluntary recall of California-grown avocados due to a potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled items were shipped to Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Shoppers can identify the impacted product by a "Bravocado" sticker. Avocados from Mexico are not subject to the recall. The recall comes after a routine government inspection of a California packing facility yielded positive results. Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious illness or death in young children, the elderly and others with weak immune systems. Among the healthy, it can cause short-term illness including severe headache, nausea and high fever. Consumers are urged to discard or return affected avocados. The Invesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF has gained 9.3% for the year to date while the S&P 500 index is up 11.7% for the period.

Nu Skin's stock extends tumble toward 2-year low after Stifel analyst turns bearish

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Shares of Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. sank 2.6% toward a fresh 2-year low in premarket trade Monday, adding to the 17% plunge over the previous five sessions, after Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Astrachan turned bearish on the direct seller of beauty and wellness products, citing increasing China uncertainty. Astrachan cut his rating back to sell, after upgrading it to hold in August, and slashed his price target to $43 from $63. The downgrade comes after China announced an investigation into direct selling companies and the unlawful promotion and sale of health products, which resulted in a 100-day ban on business meetings. Astrachan noted that recently a Nu Skin customer had died, after refusing medical treatment because they believed the company's products would treat their illness. "While the investigation does not yet specifically pertain to Nu Skin, we view increased scrutiny of the direct selling industry broadly and Nu Skin specifically as likely to impact category and company recruitment, negatively impacting sales and profit in a key market," Astrachan wrote in a note to clients. The stock has tumbled 19.7% year to date through Friday, while the S&P 500 has gained 11.7%.

Central European Media Enterprises to review strategic alternatives, including possible sale of company

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Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. said Monday its board has decided to review its strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company. The media and entertainment company operates in five Central and Eastern European markets with TV channels in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. AT&T Inc. , the company's biggest shareholder, supports the review, the company said in a statement. U.S.-listed shares were halted premarket for the news, but have fallen 15% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 8%.

Ann Taylor parent Ascena shares jump after deal to sell stake in Maurices for $300 million

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Ascena Retail Group Inc. shares jumped 14% in Monday premarket trading after it announced an agreement to sell a majority stake in Maurices, the women's clothing chain, to private-equity firm OpCapita LLP for about $300 million. The move is part of a portfolio review that is on track to yield run-rate cost savings of $300 million by July. Other brands in the Ascena portfolio include Ann Taylor and Dressbarn. David Jaffe, Ascena's chief executive, said in a statement the company has a plan for an additional $150 million in savings, "which will drive operating margin expansion." Ascena will continue to support Maurices' business services platform, including sourcing and supply chain. Ascena's stock has slumped more than 57% in 2019 while the S&P 500 index has gained 11.7% for the year to date.

Texas Instruments stock falls after Bernstein downgrade

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Shares of Texas Instruments Inc. are down 1.5% in premarket trading Monday, after Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon downgraded the stock to market perform from outperform. He also cut his rating on Analog Devices Inc. shares to market perform from outperform. "Overall we are growing increasingly nervous about the set-up for the industry into the 2H (with inventories remaining elevated, expectations higher, and valuations less favorable)," Rasgon wrote. Texas Instruments and Analog Devices are "more broadly exposed, and more expensive" relative to the other semiconductor names that Rasgon covers. Though he said that Texas Instruments' numbers look "unaggressive," he sees potential for gross-margin headwinds. On Analog Devices, Rasgon argued that " while the company may be able to grind some more growth out of the comm story, it seems to be expected at this point." Analog Devices shares are off 1.3% in premarket trading Monday, and they've soared 34% over the past three months. Texas Instruments shares have risen 25% in that time, while the S&P 500 has climbed 19%.

British Parliament to vote on May's Brexit deal for third time on Tuesday: reports

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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will put a version of her Brexit withdrawal agreement to a vote in Parliament on Tuesday, according to local reports. This will be the third vote on May's deal, which has previously been rejected in January and earlier this month. The U.K. was scheduled to leave the European Union by March 29, but last week secured an extension that would postpone the deadline to June 30 if May's deal was supported by lawmakers. If the deal is rejected, the U.K. will have until April 12 to decide on next steps or leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The British pound pared earlier losses following the reports and was last up 0.2% at $1.3242.

UPDATE: Winnebago profit tops estimates but revenue falls short

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Winnebago Industries Inc. said Monday it had net income of $21.6 million, or 68 cents a share, in its fiscal second quarter to Feb. 23, down from $22.1 million, or 69 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue fell to $432.7 million from $468.4 million. The FactSet consensus was for EPS of 60 cents and revenue of $459 million. Motorhome revenue fell 17.3% to $164.7 million, while revenue for towables fell 5.9% to $250.7 million. "While the RV industry has been challenged over the past 6 months, we believe the wholesale shipment and retail sales equation will approach a new equilibrium during our fiscal Q3," Chief Executive Michael Happe said in a statement. Shares swung between gains and losses premarket, but were last up 9.5%. The stock has fallen 20% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 8%.

Archer Daniels says extreme winter weather will shave up to $60 million off Q1 pretax earnings

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Grands and seeds processor Archer Daniels Midland Co. said Monday it expects extreme winter weather-related disruptions to shave $50 million to $60 million off first-quarter pretax operating profit. "Extreme winter weather has affected our first quarter North American operations beyond what we would experience in a typical winter," the food company said in a regulatory filing. Snow and rain storms in March that caused flooding are affecting the company's Carbohydrates Solutions and Origination operations, said the filing. "Rail transportation has been disrupted throughout the region; our corn processing complex in Columbus, Nebraska, was idled due to flooding and currently is running at reduced rates; and unfavorable river conditions since December are severely limiting barge transportation movements and port activities." The company will offer investors an update on the impact on its first-quarter earnings call. Shares were not yet active premarket, but have gained 1.4% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.2%.

American Airlines 'cannot' forecast costs of grounding of 737 MAX aircraft because of uncertainties

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American Airlines Group Inc. disclosed Monday that its expects the Federal Aviation Administration's grounding of Boeing Co.'s 737 MAX aircraft to continue to cause "significant disruption" to its customers and financial costs to the airline. The company said, however, that the financial costs of the disruption "cannot be forecasted at this time," as they will depend on a number of factors, including the period of time of the grounding and the circumstances related to the reintroduction of the aircraft. American said in a filing with the SEC that its fleet included 24 Boeing MAX 8 aircraft, with an additional 76 aircraft on order. Prior to the grounding, it had been operating on average about 90 flights a day involving the grounded aircraft, with flight cancellations announced through April 24, so far. American's stock slipped 0.1% in premarket trade. It has shed 4.8% year to date, while Boeing shares have rallied 12.3%, the NYSE Arca Airline Index has gained 4.5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has advanced 9.3%.

Apple streaming event 'could trigger a sell-off,' says BTIG

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BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk wrote Monday that Apple Inc.'s upcoming launch of its streaming-media service "could trigger a sell-off in the stock." The company is scheduled to make an announcement on Monday at 1 p.m. ET, which is widely expected to concern the company's efforts in streaming video. "We believe there is little that Apple can say at its event today that will satisfy media skeptics," Piecyk wrote. He said that sell-offs have become typical following Apple events. "Most of today's criticism will probably be accurate but viewed through a short term lens," Piecyk wrote, including that it's difficult and expensive to become a formidable media player. He argued that the company shouldn't look toward a big acquisition as a way to bolster its content ambitions. Nonetheless, he boosted his price target to $220 from $189 in his Monday note, writing that the outlook for Apple's 2020 earnings looks favorable relative to the S&P 500 . Apple shares have jumped 30% in the past three months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 17%.

Recro Pharma's stock plunges to pace premarket decliners after 2nd CRL for pain treatment

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Shares of Recro Pharma Inc. plummeted 46% to pace all premarket decliners Monday, after the specialty pharmaceutical company said it received a second "complete response letter" (CRL) from the Food and Drug Administration regarding the new drug application for intravenous meloxicam for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. The comments in the CRL, which was unveiled late Friday, focused on onset and duration, saying the delayed onset failed to meet prescriber expectations for intravenous drugs, and citing regulatory concerns over the role of meloxicam as a monotherapy in acute pain. The company said it "strongly disagrees" with the FDA. "We are extremely disappointed with the receipt of a second CRL from the FDA," said Chief Executive Gerri Henwood. "We remain steadfast in our belief that IV meloxicam holds significant potential as a treatment option for moderate to severe pain in multiple clinical settings and remain committed to pursuing a path to regulatory approval." The stock had run up 44% over the past three months through Friday, while the S&P 500 had gained 19%.

Tradeweb to offer 27.3 million shares in IPO priced at $24 to $26 each

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Tradeweb Markets Inc., an operator of electronic marketplaces, set the terms for its planned initial public offering on Monday, saying in a regulatory filing that it plans to offer 27.3 million shares priced at $24 to $26 each. The company would raise $682.50 at the midpoint of that range. The company has applied to list on Nasdaq, under the ticker symbol "TW." There are 12 underwriters on the deal, led by JPMorgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Proceeds of the deal will be used to purchase certain interests from the company's bank shareholders.

Viacom shares jump 5% premarket on reports of deal with AT&T's DirectTv

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Viacom Inc. and AT&T Inc. have reached a deal that will keep Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and other channels on AT&T's DirectTv service, the LA Times and other media reported Monday. The deal came after days of tense negotiation and after the previous contract had expired, said the paper. As the nation's biggest pay-TV distributor, AT&T was demanding a cut in the carriage fees charged by Viacom. AT&T provides TV service to 24.5 million homes in the U.S. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed. Viacom shares rose 5% in premarket trade, while AT&T shares were up 0.3%.

Biogen sets new $5 billion stock repurchase program in aftermath of stock plunge

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Shares of Biogen Inc. bounced 1.7% in premarket trade Monday, after the drugmaker disclosed that it set a new $5.0 billion stock repurchase program, without an expiration date. The new program is in addition to the $1.7 billion remaining under the program set in August 2018. The new buyback announcement comes after the stock plummeted 32.4% to close Friday at the lowest level since June 2016, after the company said it would discontinue its phase 3 trials of its Alzheimer's treatment, citing results of an interim analysis of trial data. Based on Friday's stock closing price of $216.71, the total buyback authorization would represent about 30.92 million shares, or 15.7% of the shares outstanding. Biogen's stock has shed 16.7% over the past 12 months, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has gained 2.7% and the S&P 500 has advanced 8.2%.

Canopy Growth receives licence to grow cannabis in New Brunswick

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Canopy Growth Corp. said Monday it has received a licence from Health Canada to grow cannabis at a facility in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The Canadian cannabis company said it expects the facility to produce more than 5,000 kg of cannabis a year with the first harvest expected within six months. The company is expecting to add jobs, including lab supervisors, technologists, growers, post-harvest crews, quality assurance experts, and shipping and maintenance crews. Details of the jobs on offer will be revealed in the coming weeks. Applicants can monitor canopygrowth.com/careers as well as the company's @CanopyGrowth Twitter feed. U.S.-listed shares rose 0.6% premarket and have gained 71% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 8%.

Cousins Properties, Tier REIT to merge creating an office REIT with combined market cap of $5.9 billion

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Cousins Properties Inc. and Tier REIT Inc. announced Monday a merger deal, creating a office real estate investment trust with a combined equity market capitalization of about $5.9 billion. The stocks are still inactive in premarket trade. Under terms of the 100% stock deal, Cousins will exchange 2.98 shares of newly issued shares for each Tier stock outstanding. Based on Friday's closing prices, that values Tier shares at $29.44 each, a 15.6% premium. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019, at which time Cousins shareholders will own 72% of the combined company and Tier stockholders will own 28%. The companies expect annual net savings of $18.5 million after closing. "The company will own an unmatched portfolio of trophy office properties in the premier submarkets of Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Phoenix and Tampa," said Cousins Chief Executive Colin Connolly. Cousins's stock has rallied 18.9% over the past 12 months and Tier shares have soared 42.0%, while the SPDR Real Estate Select Sector ETF has climbed 19.1% and the S&P 500 has gained 8.2%.

Tesla stock falls as concerns over softer sales increase after NYT report

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Shares of Tesla Inc. dropped 1.2% toward a 5-month low in premarket trade Monday, after a New York Times report indicated a big decline in sales from January to February, after the federal tax credit was reduced. Citing data on new-car registrations, compiled by the Dominion Cross-Sell Report, new Tesla registrations "fell significantly" in the 23 states covered by the report, including California, which accounts for about half of Tesla's sales, and three other big markets for the electric-vehicle maker, Texas, Florida and Washington. The report helps fuel concerns of softer sales and deliveries, which have weighed on the stock this year. The stock has tumbled 20.5% year to date through Friday, while the S&P 500 has climbed 11.7%. Over the weekend, On Friday, Cowen cut its price target, citing "likely softer deliveries" because of recent price changes and margin pressure. Over the weekend, Chief Executive Elon Musk said prices on inventory cars will rise 3% on April 1.

Yield curve may be indicating increased chance for rate cut but not a recession, says former Fed Chair Yellen

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Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Monday that the U.S. Treasury yield curve[s:TMUBMUSD10Y], which inverted on Friday for the first time since 2007, may signal the need to cut interest rates at some point, but it does not signal a recession. Yellen, who led the Fed between 2014 and 2018, was speaking at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment conference in Hong Kong. The curve, which reflects yields, and by default, borrowing rates, from shortest to longest maturity tends to slope upward in a growing economy, with longer-dated maturities paying out more than their short-dated counterparts; it has a debatable role historically in signalling recessions. The slope for global bonds had regained its upward trajectory, slightly, in European trading on Monday after stronger-than-expected German data. The Chicago Fed's Charles Evans, a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year, told the same Hong Kong conference that it was understandable for markets to be nervous when the yield curve flattens as it has.

Mueller report findings could be released on Sunday: NBC

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Attorney General William Barr won't be sharing conclusions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's now-completed Russia report with Congress on Saturday, according to NBC News. Barr had said in a letter to the House and Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday that he may be able to give Congress a summary "as soon as this weekend." Barr's summary could come Sunday, the report says. Mueller has been investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to Donald Trump's campaign. Trump has denied the allegation.

Software maker Zoom files IPO documents

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Zoom Video Communications Inc. filed its initial public offering documents Friday and plans to list under the ticker ZM on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Zoom, which makes video communications software, reported net income of $7.6 million, vs. losses of $8.2 million in the year-prior quarter. Because of a $7.6 million charge for undistributed earnings attributable to participating securities, Zoom reported earnings of zero cents a share in fiscal 2019, vs. losses of 11 cents a share in fiscal 2018. Revenue rose to $330.5 million in fiscal 2019 up from $151.5 million in fiscal 2018. The San Jose, Calif.-based tech company had $66 million in cash and equivalents at the end of fiscal 2019 and free cash flow of $29.2 million. Zoom had a private valuation of $1 billion as of 2017, according to The Wall Street Journal. Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs & Co. and Credit Suisse are listed as underwriters, among other investment banks. The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says the company plans to raise $100 million, though that figure is often a placeholder and will increase as Zoom approaches its listing date.

Barr tells lawmakers he may tell them Mueller conclusions this weekend

2 days ago

In a letter to House and Senate committee chairmen, Attorney General William Barr said he may be able to tell them this weekend Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "principal conclusions." Mueller delivered his report to Barr Friday. He has been investigating whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign aided Russia in interfering with the 2016 election. Trump has denied the allegation.

Mueller has delivered his report to Attorney General Barr: reports

2 days ago

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr, multiple media outlets said Friday. Mueller has investigated whether the Trump campaign aided Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied that allegation.

Pinterest files IPO, shows fourth-quarter profit

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Pinterest Inc. filed its initial public offering documents late Friday. The image search company said it plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PINS. Pinterest reported fourth-quarter net income of $47 million, up from $3.4 million in the year-ago quarter. The fourth quarter appears to be the company's most profitable: it posted third-quarter losses of $18.8 million, narrowing from $35.7 million in the year-ago period. Fourth-quarter revenue rose to $273.2 million from $173.4 million in the year-earlier quarter. Pinterest reported full-year net losses of $63 million, or 17 cents a share, vs. $130 million or 34 cents a share in 2017; revenue rose to $755.9 million from $472.9 million, in the year-ago period. At the end of 2018, Pinterest reported $135.3 million in cash and negative cash flow of $157,000. Pinterest was last valued by investors at $12.3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Goldman Sachs & Co. J.P. Morgan and Allen & Company are listed as underwriters, among others. The Securities and Exchange Commission filing says the company plans to raise $100 million, though that figure is often a placeholder and will likely increase as Pinterest approaches its listing date.

Stocks end sharply lower as global growth worries mount

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Stocks fell sharply and ended near session lows Friday as a round of disappointing economic data out of Europe and an inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve stoked worries over global growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped around 460 points, or 1.8%, to end near 25,503, according to preliminary data, while the S&P 500 shed 1.9% to close near 2,801. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.5% to end near 7,643. Equities began the session on a weak note after purchasing-managers-index readings across Europe came in weaker than expected. Losses were extended after a measure of the yield curve inverted, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note falling below the yield on the 3-month T-bill. An inversion is seen as a reliable recession indicator, typically preceding such downturns by around a year or more.

Two influential Fed doves shy away from calling for rate cuts

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Two of the Federal Reserve's most dovish officials on Friday both shied away from calling for the central bank to cut interest rates. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, said the central bank may have tightened "a little bit too far" but didn't call for reversing course. Earlier,Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said only that he thinks the Fed is close to a neutral policy stance and he hoped the central bank hadn't pushed its benchmark Fed funds rate up to a level that was causing the economy to contract. Both said they supported the Fed decision this week to hold interest rates steady.

Stephen Moore says he doesn't want to disrupt Fed, says call to fire Powell was written 'in anger'

2 days ago

Stephen Moore, who President Trump on Friday said he would nominate to the Federal Reserve, said in an interview he will be an "independent voice." Speaking to Bloomberg Television, the campaign adviser to Trump said his previous call to fire Chairman Jerome Powell "was probably written in a time of anger" but that the December rate hike was a mistake that has been reversed. He said he looked forward to working with Powell and that Powell could be a "hero." "I do not want to be disruptive, I want to be somebody that can really help Chairman Powell and the others on that board to construct the best pro-growth, stable price system that we can for this country," Moore said.

Oil prices settle lower, but climb for a third straight week

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Oil futures fell on Friday, with losses fed by worries over a slowdown in global energy demand, but prices climbed for a third straight week on expectations for tighter crude supplies. May West Texas Intermediate oil fell 94 cents, or 1.6%, to finish at $59.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract still rose about 0.4% for the week, according to FactSet data.

Treasury imposes new sanctions on Venezuela after arrest of Guiado aide

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The Treasury Department on Friday announced new sanctions against Venezuela, after what the agency called the illegal arrest of an aide to Juan Guiado, who the U.S. recognizes as the acting president of the country. The sanctions are against the bank Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, or BANDES, as well as four institutions it owns or controls. The sanctions come within an hour of President Trump rolling back the sanctions the Treasury announced Thursday against North Korea.