Bad News for the Rainforest, Monsanto Co., and Apple: Morning Buzzers

U.S. stock futures declined this morning amid speculation that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting off bond purchases due to improving economic conditions. However, a payroll report from ADP showed just 135,000 additions in May, which is well below expectations and suggests some weakness in hiring. The S&P 500 is expected to fall for a second day.

Futures as of 8:30 a.m.: DJIA: -0.38% S&P 500: -0.48% NASDAQ: -0.43%

Here’s what’s buzzing on Wednesday morning:

Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON) is being sued by a Kansas farmer after the discovery of un-contained genetically-modified wheat found growing in Oregon. The farmer is accusing the company of gross negligence that has put U.S. wheat export sales at risk. The petition claims that Monsanto released GMO wheat into the non-genetically-modified population. As of now, it is not known whether the genetically-modified wheat has contaminated food supplies, but South Korea, Japan, and the European Union have suspended U.S. wheat purchases, and are testing wheat from the U.S. to see if it contains the genetically-modified wheat.

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Chevron (NYSE:CVX) owned assets in Argentina are being unfrozen after the Supreme Court overturned a judge’s order. This opens up opportunity for the company to proceed with a $1.5 billion venture with YPF to develop shale oil and gas. The freeze was related to a suit the company is facing in Ecuador regarding oil contamination caused by Chevron-owned Texaco Oil in the Amazon rainforest between 1972 and 1990. The judge has ruled that the suit is not related to Chevron’s Argentinian operations. Chevron is refusing to pay the $19 billion environmental groups are demanding because the company believes Texaco already took care of the problem.

Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) will soon reach a settlement with India over $2.2 billion in taxes the company owes the country after acquiring a unit of Hong-Kong based Hutchison Whampoa in 2007. Vodafone has disputed the bill, but has said its would be willing to pay a settlement that doesn’t include interest. Vodafone has invested $9.1 billion in India, the fastest-growing mobile market. Vodafone doesn’t believe it owes taxes to the Indian government on the deal, because it took place between two companies based outside India, and the funds were deposited in the Cayman Islands.

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Samsung has won a ban on older models of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and iPads, saying that the older models violate Samsung-owned patents. The U.S. International Trade Commission concluded that some of Apple’s older products violate a design patent held by Samsung. The ruling calls for limited bans on sales of the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPads 1 and 2. Samsung had this to say about the ruling, “We believe the ITC’s final determination has confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations.”

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