The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for some investors topress securities fraud suits, ruling for shareholders who accuseHalliburton Co. of misrepresenting its financial condition whileunder Dick Cheney's leadership.

The justices today unanimously said the shareholders can sue asa group without first establishing that they lost money as a resultof the alleged fraud. The decision set aside a federal appealscourt ruling.

The shareholders, led by the Erica P. John Fund, contend thatHalliburton from 1999 to 2001 falsified earnings reports, playeddown estimated asbestos liability and overstated the benefits of amerger. Cheney, later the U.S. vice president, served as chairmanand chief executive officer of the oilfield services providerduring part of the disputed period.

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