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Why Alphabet Stock Popped 4.8% Today

By Rich Smith - Updated Jan 20, 2021 at 1:15PM

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Mixed news is apparently good news for Google's parent.

What happened

Shares of internet search giant Alphabet (GOOG 2.32%) (GOOGL 1.88%) are flying today, up 4.8% in noonday trading, but it's not immediately clear why. There's good news and bad news for Google's parent company today, but the bad news predominates.

Arrow angles up on a green stock chart

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

The good news: Reuters reports that Google is asking a federal judge to remove 10 states' antitrust lawsuits against it and have them tried in California, where jurors may be more favorable to the tech company. The bad news: Reuters also reports that 38 other states are suing Google over monopoly concerns, and the European Union appears to be gearing up to do likewise.    

Adding to the bad headlines, Axios reports today that Google -- which in December may or may not have fired (the facts are disputed) one of its Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) team members, Timnit Gebru -- has discovered that a second member of its AI team, Margaret Mitchell, has been looking through Gebru's messages to find examples showing discriminatory treatment of her.

Google responded to the apparent data misappropriation by locking Mitchell's accounts at the company, and said it is "actively investigating this matter."  

Now what

How bad this will get for Google, and for Alphabet, remains to be seen, but it certainly is bad optics, in public relations language. And the fact that Mitchell has begun tweeting angry notes about the company suggests that this is a negative headline that won't go away anytime soon, potentially damaging its reputation at the same time it's fending off multiple litigation assaults.

Why any of the above would add up to a 4.8% stock price gain for Google is beyond me.

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