SEC suspects insider trading in takeover of H.J. Heinz

WASHINGTON – The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday received a court order freezing a Zurich, Switzerland, account on suspicions of insider trading in the takeover of H.J. Heinz.

The SEC alleges that options traders made a profit of more than $1.7 million from knowing that Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital were going to buy Heinz for $28 billion, or $72.50 a share.

The SEC found suspicious the fact that defendants bought 2,533 out-of-the-money June $65 calls a day before the deal was announced, after never having traded Heinz previously in the account.

The account identifies the Zurich account as being at GS & Co. — a name Goldman Sachs Group Inc. uses for its options broker.

That the trades occurred in a Goldman account doesn’t mean that they were by Goldman employees. Nor is there any indication of wrongdoing by employees at Berkshire Hathaway, 3G Capital, Heinz or any of the advisers on the deal — Centerview Partners, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Lazard, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

S&P 500 posts its seventh week of gains in a row

NEW YORK – The S&P 500 kept its winning streak alive, just.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 ended the week nearly two points higher, enough to give it a seventh straight week of gains. That’s the longest stretch of advances in more than two years.

The index lost 1.59 points to end at 1,519.79 Friday. For the week it held on to a gain of 1.86 points.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.37 points to close at 13,981.76 Friday, but ended the week down 11 points. The index has now edged lower for two straight weeks.

Walmart was the biggest decliner in the Dow on Friday. The stock fell $1.52, or 2.2 percent, to $69.30 after Bloomberg News published excerpts from an internal email that said sales in February were a “total disaster.”

The retailer, which reports earnings next week, said that sometimes internal communications lacked “proper context” and “are not entirely accurate.”

Energy companies also contributed to the slump, following the price of crude oil lower. Chevron dropped 75 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $114.96.

The Nasdaq composite fell 6.63 points to 3,192.03 and was also down for the week, dropping 1.84 points.

DreamWorks Animation SKG licenses characters for parks

GLENDALE, Calif. – DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. says it is licensing its characters to a developer of theme parks in Russia.

The Regions Group of Companies plans to open parks in St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg in 2015.

DreamWorks said Friday that the parks will be Europe’s largest year-round indoor entertainment zones. The zones will be part of larger entertainment complexes, each featuring a mixed-use movie and concert hall, a movie theater, a hotel and a retail center.

DreamWorks shares were up 54 cents, or 3.2 percent, at $17.48 in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday.

— From news service reports