ECONOMY

Consumer index down amid trade worries

U.S. consumer confidence fell to a 21-month low in June, with households more pessimistic about business and labor market conditions amid concerns about a recent escalation in trade tensions between the United States and China.

The economy’s prospects were further dimmed by other data on Tuesday showing that sales of new single-family homes unexpectedly fell for a second straight month in May, suggesting lower mortgage rates had yet to provide a boost to the struggling housing market.

Growing risks to the economy, especially related to the trade war between Washington and Beijing, and low inflation prompted the Federal Reserve last week to signal interest rate cuts beginning as early as July.

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The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index dropped 9.8 points to a reading of 121.5 this month, the lowest since September 2017, from a downwardly revised 131.3 in May.

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President Trump last month imposed additional tariffs of up to 25 percent on $200 billionof Chinese goods, prompting retaliation by Beijing.

— Reuters

CYBERSECURITY

Report: Hackers hit global telecoms

Hackers broke into the systems of more than a dozen global telecom firms and stole huge amounts of data in a seven-year spying campaign, researchers from a cybersecurity company said, identifying links to previous Chinese cyberespionage activities.

Investigators at U.S.-Israeli cyber firm Cybereason said on Tuesday that the attackers compromised companies in more than 30 countries and aimed to gather information on individuals in government, law enforcement and politics.

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The hackers also used tools linked to other attacks attributed to Beijing by the United States and its Western allies, said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason.

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“For this level of sophistication it’s not a criminal group. It is a government that has capabilities that can do this kind of attack,” he said.

“Right now we’re still tracking them,” he said. “On Saturday we debriefed more than 25 different telcos.”

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of the report, but he added that “we would never allow anyone to engage in such activities on Chinese soil or using Chinese infrastructure.”

— Reuters

Also in Business

The U.S. Justice Department has begun a criminal probe into allegations that Tyson Foods and other poultry processors, including Pilgrim's Pride and Sanderson Farms, colluded to fix poultry prices, court documents show. Pilgrim's Pride and Sanderson said they did not fix prices; Tyson, which has previously denied the allegations, did not immediately respond.

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San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes after supervisors gave the measure its second and final vote Tuesday. Backers say they hope the legislation will curb underage use of e-cigarettes, but critics say the ban will make it harder for adults to purchase an alternative to regular cigarettes. San Francisco is a city that celebrates its marijuana culture, but it appears it's deeply opposed to other vices. E-cigarette maker Juul Labs, which is based in San Francisco, says it is opposed to youth vaping. The company is working on a ballot initiative that would regulate but not ban e-cigarette sales.

— From news services

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