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Business highlights | Summary of the most important economic stories

WASHINGTON – Concerned about soaring prices on everything from food and gasoline to plane tickets and clothing? Well, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had a clear message in the two-day Congressional hearings this week: just give it more time and those gains should slow or even reverse. However, the Fed chairman also admitted that the US economy is in unprecedented reopening after the sharp pandemic recession, making it much harder to predict how things like inflation and unemployment will play out.

RICHMOND, Virginia – Microsoft says these are blocked tools developed by an Israeli hacker-for-hire company to spy on more than 100 people around the world, including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics, and political Dissidents. Microsoft released a software update and worked with the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab to investigate the secret Israeli company Candiru, which is believed to be behind the hacking efforts. Microsoft and Citizen Lab reports shed new light on a growing and lucrative industry that is selling sophisticated hacking tools to governments and law enforcement agencies.

NEW YORK – There won’t be a lot of gossip for corporate sponsors at this year’s Tokyo Olympics thanks to the pandemic. The corporate sponsorship program has been an important part of the Olympic experience since it began in 1985. More than a dozen names like Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble pay millions of dollars in sponsorship and marketing programs every four year cycle that includes winning and culinary athletes, top employees, key customers and clients at Olympic events. But even at the remote Tokyo Olympics, corporate sponsors still see a golden opportunity to market their brand using branded icons like the torch, experts say.

WASHINGTON – Mortgage rates have been mixed this week. The 30-year benchmark loan fell for the third straight week amid ongoing concerns about the recent spike in inflation.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average for the 30-year home loan fell from 2.90% last week to 2.88%, up from its high of 3.18% in April this year. The key interest rate was 2.98% a year ago.

The interest rate on a 15-year loan, a popular option among homeowners refinancing their mortgages, rose to 2.22% from 2.20% last week.

Freddie Mac economists expect economic growth to gradually drive mortgage rates higher in the second half of the year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell addressed concerns about inflation, which have been mounting in recent months as the recovery from the pandemic recession has risen. In a testimony to a US House of Representatives committee on Wednesday, he suggested that inflation “is likely to stay high” in the coming months before it becomes “moderate”. At the same time, Powell signaled no imminent change in the Fed’s ultra-low interest rate policy.

As the latest sign of heightened inflationary pressures, the government announced on Tuesday that prices paid by US consumers rose by the sharpest increase in 13 years in June. It was the third month in a row that inflation skyrocketed.

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