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June 27, 2005 at 12:01 PM
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U.S. stocks mixed despite record oil prices

NEW YORK, June 27 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices hit a record $60.47 per barrel Monday, but it did not put Wall Street in a foul mood as stock prices were mixed.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 16.34 or 0.16 percent to 10,314.18 in late-morning trading. The Nasdaq composite slipped 2.44 or 0.12 percent to 2,050.83, and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose rose 1.57 or 0.13 percent at 1,193.14.

Corporate news appeared set to dominate the day's activity: Adelphia Communications filed an amended bankruptcy plan that offered more than $9 billion to creditors and Cnooc Ltd.'s bid for Unocal Corp. stirred Congress.

Also, third quarter earnings reports have begun arriving.

The 10-year Treasury note added 5/32, or $1.56 per $1,000 invested, for a 3.902 yield.

The dollar hit 109.35 yen from 109.06, and the euro rose to $1.2166 from $1.2103.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 39.72 or 0.3 percent to 11,537.03, and London's FTSE 100 settled at 5,049.50 after falling 29.50 or 0.58 percent.

Mexico gets big bucks from big banks

MEXICO CITY, June 27 (UPI) -- Mexico has required three international banks and a Mexican lender to reimburse the federal government $114 million more than they already have paid back.

The additional payments, which have all been completed using cash and bonds, followed an audit into whether the banks improperly obtained funds during a mid-1990s government bailout of the banking system, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

That bailout followed a dramatic devaluation of the peso

The banks are Mexican units of Citigroup Inc., Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA and Britain's HSBC Holdings PLC as well as Mexico's Grupo Financiero Banorte SA.

Last year, the four banks disgorged about $825 million and agreed to submit to an audit of their loan portfolios, a spokesman for the Mexican government said Sunday.

Giant law firm linked to fraud, conspiracy

LOS ANGELES, June 27 (UPI) -- A giant New York law firm that reaped tens of billions in class-action lawsuit awards faces possible indictment for decades of alleged misdeeds.

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has been hearing evidence against Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Last week the jury handed up an indictment against lawyer Seymor Lazar, one of the firm's partners, charging fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction.

It alleges an unnamed New York law firm, which Milberg Weiss admits is itself, paid "millions of dollars in secret and illegal kickbacks" to Lazar.

Specifically, the indictment says:

-- Lazar or a member of his family appeared as a plaintiff in more than 50 Milberg Weiss cases from 1981 to 2004;

-- Lazar and relatives received more than $2.4 million in secret payments from the firm;

-- Milberg Weiss earned at least $44 million in legal fees from cases in which Lazar or a relative was a plaintiff, and

-- Lazar was illegally promised a share in the legal fees that would result from the cases in which he was a plaintiff.

Prosecutors are believed to be seeking indictments of the entire firm.

Crude oil tops $60 per barrel

NEW YORK, June 27 (UPI) -- Crude oil futures topped $60 per barrel Monday on fears global refining capacity is too small and Iran's military ambitions too large.

In electronic trading in New York, the price of a barrel of high quality crude oil was $60.65 after settling Friday at $59.84. In London, the price of a comparable crude hit $58.99 after settling Friday at $58.40.

Iran's newly elected leader, Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Sunday he fully supports his nation's nuclear ambitions, the object of intense worry among U.S. and European leaders, MarketWatch reported.

Besides political concerns, underlying economic fundamentals were seen driving oil higher.

The market exhibits an "appetite for ever higher inventories that has lapped up an additional 24.2 million barrels of (Energy Department) commercial stock over the past year along with 33.7 million barrels that flowed into the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Tim Evans, a senior analyst at IFR Markets said.

Given that, traders have also been "led to believe that our creaking infrastructure of pipelines and refineries is being stretched to the breaking point," he said.

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