Shares of technology companies fell slightly as legal issues for chip makers threatened to complicate the diplomatic clash between the U.S. and China. Qualcomm shares fell after a court found the chip designer unlawfully suppressed competition in the market for cellphone chips and used its dominant position to exact excessive licensing fees, a federal judge ruled in a decision that could challenge the company's business model and shake up the smartphone industry. A Silicon Valley chip startup backed by Microsoft and Dell Technologies has accused a top executive at Huawei Technologies, Deputy Chairman Eric Xu, of participating in a conspiracy to steal its trade secrets, The Wall Street Journal reported. In a lawsuit set for trial June 3 in federal court in Texas, CNEX Labs will allege that Huawei engaged in a multiyear conspiracy to steal the company's solid-state drive computer storage technology. Huawei has dominated market talk for much of the last 10 days as it was formally blacklisted by Washington. Following that move, companies such as Google parent Alphabet and, more recently, Britain's Arm Holdings have stepped back from doing business with the smartphone and network equipment maker. Reports that the Commerce Department was issuing temporary exemptions for some companies exporting goods to Huawei lifted markets earlier in the week. Tesla shares fell sharply after a Consumer Reports article said the electric car maker's updated Autopilot software "could create potential safety risks." Analysts at brokerage Citi maintained a sell rating on the company, citing ongoing demand and cash-flow issues. First-quarter earnings for security software companies largely were a disappointment, partly because of a slowdown in the wake of accelerated fourth-quarter activity, but there are likely "better days" ahead for the sector later in the year, said strategists at brokerage Morgan Stanley, in a note to clients.
-Rob Curran, email@example.com