SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today refused to sanction a revenue-sharing deal that Southern California grocery chains made in anticipation of a labor-related strike. But the court stopped just short of outlawing the practice.

A divided en banc panel said it would not expand the law of nonstatutory labor exemption to shield grocers from antitrust liability, but that it would need more information to determine if the agreement had a significant anti-competitive impact before deeming it a Sherman Act violation.