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Exclusive: Missouri attorney general investigates Morningstar over ESG ratings

By Ross Kerber (Reuters) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has launched an investigation into whether Morningstar Inc violated a state consumer-protection law through its...

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has launched an investigation into whether Morningstar Inc violated a state consumer-protection law through its evaluations of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, his office told Reuters.

The review is two-pronged, covering ESG matters as well as whether the financial research firm violated a separate Missouri law aimed at protecting Israel from a campaign to isolate the Jewish state over its treatment of Palestinians.

Staff for Schmitt said it is the first instance of a state looking into ESG ratings products potentially breaching such laws, on the books in more than 30 U.S. states.

The investigation by Schmitt - a Republican who on Tuesday won his party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat [L1N2ZE2KQ] - comes as political allies in various states ramp up pressure against efforts to address climate change and tackle other social and environmental issues.

"Missouri has been a leader in pushing back against woke ESG investing, and my office will continue to look out for consumers," Schmitt said in a statement.

Morningstar Chief Executive Kunal Kapoor said the company was evaluating Schmitt's action.

"Sustainability introduces new choices for investors; Morningstar provides the data and insights to help investors of all types weigh those choices in their decision making," Kapoor said in a statement.

In a pair of July 26 civil investigative demands to Morningstar and to its Sustainalytics ESG-ratings unit, Schmitt said they may have violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act such as by misrepresenting or omitting facts.

Schmitt's office said the violations may have occurred through the sale of ESG products to Missouri-based businesses and other consumers, such as if the products overly emphasized the risk for companies of doing business in Israel.

Among his demands, Schmitt is seeking documents or communications relating to "ESG Services and BDS," referring to efforts to boycott, divest or sanction the Jewish state or companies there.

Morningstar has said it does not support the BDS campaign - a claim for which Schmitt also sought documents.

The investigation covers some old ground for Chicago-based Morningstar. The firm in June said it would cancel a human rights research product meant to help clients evaluate companies working in high-risk countries and disputed territories.

A law firm hired by Morningstar found the research focused disproportionately on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict relative to other regions, though it found fewer problems with other products.

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19-08-2022 15:42:09 (UTC+7)

EUR/USD

1.0086

-0.0002 (-0.02%)

Summary

Neutral

Moving Avg:

Buy (5)

Sell (7)

Indicators:

Buy (7)

Sell (0)

EUR/USD

1.0086

-0.0002 (-0.02%)

Summary

Neutral

Moving Avg:

Buy (5)

Sell (7)

Indicators:

Buy (7)

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GBP/USD

1.1897

-0.0033 (-0.28%)

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↑ Buy

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Buy (8)

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USD/JPY

136.48

+0.60 (+0.44%)

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Buy (1)

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AUD/USD

0.6906

-0.0013 (-0.18%)

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Buy

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USD/CAD

1.2974

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EUR/JPY

137.65

+0.57 (+0.42%)

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Neutral

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EUR/CHF

0.9658

+0.0006 (+0.06%)

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Sell

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Gold Futures

1,767.45

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Silver Futures

19.157

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Copper Futures

3.6190

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Crude Oil WTI Futures

89.30

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95.35

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Natural Gas Futures

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US Coffee C Futures

214.90

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Euro Stoxx 50

3,743.75

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S&P 500

4,283.74

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DAX

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FTSE 100

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Hang Seng

19,772.50

+8.59 (+0.04%)

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US Small Cap 2000

2,000.73

+13.41 (+0.68%)

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↑ Buy

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IBEX 35

8,348.78

-81.52 (-0.97%)

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BASF SE NA O.N.

43.252

-0.188 (-0.43%)

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Bayer AG NA

53.23

-0.83 (-1.54%)

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Sell (8)

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Allianz SE VNA O.N.

175.90

-2.62 (-1.47%)

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↑ Sell

Moving Avg:

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Sell (12)

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Buy (1)

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Adidas AG

165.75

-1.77 (-1.06%)

Summary

↑ Sell

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Buy (0)

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Sell (9)

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

6.335

-0.231 (-3.52%)

Summary

↑ Sell

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Buy (3)

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Buy (1)

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Siemens AG Class N

109.27

-0.99 (-0.90%)

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Deutsche Bank AG

8.597

-0.271 (-3.06%)

Summary

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Moving Avg:

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Indicators:

Buy (0)

Sell (8)

 EUR/USD1.0086Neutral
 GBP/USD1.1897↑ Buy
 USD/JPY136.48↑ Sell
 AUD/USD0.6906Buy
 USD/CAD1.2974↑ Sell
 EUR/JPY137.65Neutral
 EUR/CHF0.9658Sell
 Gold1,767.45↑ Buy
 Silver19.157↑ Sell
 Copper3.6190Neutral
 Crude Oil WTI89.30Sell
 Brent Oil95.35Sell
 Natural Gas9.091Sell
 US Coffee C214.90↑ Sell
 Euro Stoxx 503,743.75↑ Sell
 S&P 5004,283.74Sell
 DAX13,569.74↑ Sell
 FTSE 1007,519.16↑ Sell
 Hang Seng19,772.50Neutral
 Small Cap 20002,000.73↑ Buy
 IBEX 358,348.78↑ Sell
 BASF43.252Sell
 Bayer53.23Sell
 Allianz175.90↑ Sell
 Adidas165.75↑ Sell
 Lufthansa6.335↑ Sell
 Siemens AG109.27↑ Sell
 Deutsche Bank AG8.597↑ Sell
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SJC Eximbank6,600/ 6,700
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Cập nhật 19-08-2022 15:42:15
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Cập nhật lúc 15:39:04 19/08/2022
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