The U.S. Supreme Court cast doubt on a lower court's ruling that would let merchants collectively claim that American Express Co. violated federal antitrust laws by forcing retailers to honor all its cards.

On Monday the justices told the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to reconsider its decision, which said the merchants were not bound by an arbitration agreement requiring them to press any complaints against Amex individually. The justices pointed to an April 27 decision in which they said companies cannot be forced to submit to class arbitration unless they had previously agreed to do so.

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