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Stocks rise...Russian gets 5 years for malware role...Shareholders OK merger of tobacco companies

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in afternoon trading on Wall Street as gains in health care and media companies put major indexes on track to set more records. Drugmaker Vertex Pharmaceuticals is surging on positive results from potential treatments for cystic fibrosis. Morgan Stanley is rising after the investment bank's trading desks had a good second quarter. The technology component of the Standard & Poor's 500 is at an all-time high.

ATLANTA (AP) — A Russian man who helped develop and distribute malicious software designed to steal personal financial information has been sentenced to five years in prison. Mark Vartanyan was sentenced today in Atlanta after pleading guilty in March to a computer fraud charge. Prosecutors say he helped develop, improve, maintain and distribute Citadel, which infects computer systems and steals financial and personal identification information. Industry estimates indicate it infected about 11 million computers worldwide, causing more than $500 million in losses.

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. appeals court has reversed the convictions of two British ex-bankers charged with conspiring to manipulate the primary benchmark for global short-term interest rates. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the trial of Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti improperly included evidence gained from compelled testimony in the United Kingdom. Allen was sentenced to two years and Conti received one year in prison after their 2015 convictions.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Shareholders of British American Tobacco and Reynolds American Inc. support merging into the world's largest publicly traded tobacco company. Shareholders of both companies have approved the London-headquartered company's purchase of the nearly 60 percent of Reynolds it doesn't already own. The purchase is expected to become effective next week.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — The Kwik Trip convenience store chain is acquiring a competing company also based in Wisconsin. Kwik Trip, of La Crosse, has signed an agreement to acquire PDQ, a Middleton company that operates 34 convenience stores in southeastern Wisconsin. No details about the cost of the acquisition have been released. The Kwik Trip chain has 570 stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa and employs more than 19,000 people.

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