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WASHINGTON — Worried about surging prices for everything from food and gas to airplane tickets and clothes? Well, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell had a straightforward message in two days of congressional hearings this week: Just give it more time, and those price gains should slow, or even reverse. Still, the Fed chair also acknowledged that the U.S. economy is engaged in an unprecedented reopening after the sharp pandemic recession, making it much harder to anticipate how things like inflation and unemployment will play out.

RICHMOND, Va. — Microsoft says it's blocked tools developed by an Israeli hacker-for-hire company that were used to spy on more than 100 people around the world, including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics and political dissidents. Microsoft issued a software update and worked with the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto to investigate the secretive Israeli company, known as Candiru, that's said to be behind the hacking efforts. The reports by Microsoft and Citizen Lab shine new light on a growing and lucrative industry of selling sophisticated hacking tools to governments and law enforcement agencies.

NEW YORK — For corporate sponsors, there won't be much schmoozing at this year's Olympics in Tokyo, thanks to the pandemic. The corporate sponsorship program has been a key part of the Olympic experience since it began in 1985. More than a dozen or so names like Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble pay millions of dollars in each four-year cycle on sponsorship and marketing programs that includes wining and dining athletes, top employees, key clients, and customers at Olympic events. But even with a remote Tokyo Olympics, corporate sponsors still see a golden opportunity to market their brand with such trademark symbols as the torch, experts say.


WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates were mixed this week. The benchmark 30-year loan fell for the third straight week amid lingering concerns over the recent surge in inflation.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average for the 30-year home loan eased to 2.88% from 2.90% last week, down from its peak this year of 3.18% in April. The key rate stood at 2.98% a year ago.

The rate for a 15-year loan, a popular option among homeowners refinancing their mortgages, edged up to 2.22% from 2.20% last week.

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

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell addressed the concerns on inflation, which has been rising in in recent months as the recovery from the pandemic recession strengthens. He suggested in testimony to a U.S. House committee Wednesday that inflation "will likely remain elevated" in coming months before "moderating." At the same time, Powell signaled no imminent change in the Fed's ultra-low interest rate policies.

In the latest sign of intensified inflation pressure, the government reported Tuesday that prices paid by U.S. consumers surged in June by the most in 13 years. It was the third straight month that inflation has jumped.

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