CARACAS, Venezuela — A judge in Venezuela has ordered a trial in the case of six American oil executives held for 18 months on corruption charges that have contributed to tensions with the U.S.During a hearing Friday, judge Rosvelin Gil dismissed a defence request that the six employees of Houston-based Citgo be released from prison and the charges against them dropped. Fifteen previous hearings had been cancelled.The executives, five of whom are American citizens, flew on a corporate jet to Caracas in 2017 to attend a board meeting. Once there they were arrested by masked security agents.President Nicolás Maduro’s government later accused them of embezzlement stemming from a proposal to refinance billions in Citgo bonds by offering up a 50 per cent stake in the company as collateral.The Associated Press
On the markets at midmorning (ET):The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 120.35 points to 15,153.73, after 90 minutes of trading.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 154.13 points to 22,012.45. The S&P 500 index was up 25.93 points to 2,467.25 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 78.78 points to 6,335.34.The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.76 cents US, down from Friday’s average price of 78.83 cents US.The September crude contract was up 26 cents to US$49.08 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was down four cents to US$2.94 per mmBTU.The December gold contract was down $6.30 to US$1,281.40 an ounce and the September copper contract was down one cent to US$2.91 a pound.