Stocks Slip On Report States Are Moving Ahead With Tech Anti-Monopoly Probe

Just as the administration was apparently trying to pump the market even higher with an idiotic story about possible payroll tax cuts (and during a session that was, for a brief time, focused on German fiscal stimulus, no less) a report about State AGs moving ahead on an anti-trust probe of big tech has emerged to hammer futures lower.

If accurate, the WSJ report would represent one of the most significant escalations in the push to break up the big tech companies yet. The news hit the Nasdaq, but in the context of the past week, the move wasn't particularly significant.

The makeup of the multi-state group, which includes red and blue states, has yet to be determined, but meetings have been held to ensure that the state's suit 'dovetails' with the FTC and DoJ investigations.

But the push isn't expected to start just yet.

The effort is expected to be formally launched as soon as next month, the people said, and is likely to focus on whether a handful of dominant tech platforms use their marketplace powers to stifle competition.

As part of the probe, the state attorneys are likely to issue civil investigative demands, similar to subpoenas, to tech giants and other firms, the people said.

They said the new investigation could dovetail with plans by the U.S. Justice Department, which last month announced its own antitrust review that will focus on tech companies including Alphabet Inc. ’s Google unit and Facebook Inc.

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that a number of attorneys general were considering launching a probe into antitrust concerns surrounding Big Tech.

As that effort moves toward a formal investigation, representatives of about a dozen states attorneys general, including Republicans and Democrats, met with top Justice Department officials in Washington in July to discuss concerns about lack of competition in the tech industry, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The big tech firms mostly declined to comment to WSJ, but as the paper noted, Facebook, Apple and others have maintained that social media as an industry faces intense competition.