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Fewer job listings in May

A sign advertised job openings at a McDonald’s restaurant in Miami Beach, Fla., June 15. Employers became slightly less desperate for workers in May as job openings declined for the second straight month from a record high in March.SCOTT MCINTYRE/NYT


Fewer job listings in May

US employers advertised fewer jobs in May amid signs that the economy is weakening, though the overall demand for workers remained strong. Employers posted 11.3 million job openings at the end of May, the Labor Department said Wednesday, down from nearly 11.7 million in April. Job openings reached 11.9 million in March, the highest level on records dating back more than 20 years. There are nearly two job openings for every unemployed person, a sharp reversal from the historic pattern: Before the pandemic, there were always more unemployed people than available jobs. The figures reflect the unusual nature of the post-pandemic economy: Inflation is hammering household budgets, forcing consumers to pull back on spending, and growth is weakening. Yet companies are still scrambling to add workers. Demand has been particularly strong in travel- and entertainment-related services. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Apple feature aimed at blocking government hacking

Apple said Wednesday that it will introduce an innovative security feature to give potential targets of government hacking an easy way to make their iPhones safer. The company said it would be releasing the new ‘’Lockdown Mode’' in test versions of its operating systems shortly, with full distribution in the fall as part of iOS 16 for iPhones as well as the operating systems for iPads and Mac computers. The action follows waves of attacks documented by The Washington Post and others showing that iPhones were being hacked by Pegasus spyware distributed by the Israeli company NSO Group and then used to capture contact information and live audio. But while Pegasus prompted Apple to act, it is not the only spyware that would be hobbled by the new feature. Once engaged, Lockdown Mode will block most types of attachments on messages and prevent the phone from previewing web links, which are frequently used to transmit spyware. Locking a phone will disable wired connections to computers and accessories that are used to take control of devices that have been seized by police or stolen by spies. — WASHINGTON POST



Stimulus checks had limited impact

The nearly $1 trillion in stimulus checks during the pandemic likely had no long-lasting impact on recipients’ financial well-being, and in some cases, increased their feelings of distress around money, a study found. Researchers surveyed more than 5,000 Americans living in poverty to find out how effective the unconditional cash transfers were. Recipients increased expenditures for a few weeks, but the extra money had no long-term impact on spending or savings, according to the paper, published Tuesday. “These results suggest that the cash allowed participants to spend more money, improving objective financial outcomes for the few weeks immediately following the transfer and then dissipating thereafter,” wrote the researchers, led by Ania Jaroszewicz at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Strike hits French railways

A strike by railway workers demanding higher pay amid cost of living increases interrupted train services in France on Wednesday. National railway company SNCF said about one high-speed train in four was canceled, while regional services such as suburban trains in the Paris region experienced disruptions. The strike takes place as many travelers are planning to use trains to go on summer vacations. The SNCF advised people to cancel or postpone their trips and work from home when possible. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Ben & Jerry’s sues over plan to sell its treats in east Jerusalem, West Bank

One week after its parent company found a way to get Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sold in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, the company known for its stance on social issues almost as much as for its Chunky Monkey ice cream is suing to block that from happening. Unilever announced that it was selling its interest in the Vermont ice cream maker to its Israeli licensee, which would market Ben & Jerry’s products with Hebrew and Arabic labels. Ben & Jerry’s fired back this week in a Manhattan federal court that Unilever’s maneuver “poses a risk” to the integrity of its brand. It claims the deal violates the 2000 acquisition agreement that allowed Ben & Jerry’s to continue its progressive social mission independently of business decisions made by Unilever. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Price of copper continues to drop

Copper plunged below $7,500 a ton as fears of a global economic slowdown piled pressure on industrial metals and deepened their retreat from record highs just months ago. Investors are fretting over a range of threats to demand, from Europe’s gas crisis to a US slowdown and renewed virus flare-ups in China. After a 4.2 percent slump on Tuesday to its lowest close in 19 months, copper fell almost 5 percent on Wednesday, before paring some losses. Aluminum, nickel, and tin also tumbled. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


UK regulators probe Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard

Microsoft’s acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard faces antitrust scrutiny in the UK, where competition regulators said Wednesday they’ve opened an initial inquiry into the $69 billion deal. The Competition and Markets Authority said it has started looking into whether the tie-up would result “in a substantial lessening of competition’' in the United Kingdom. The US tech giant announced in January that it was buying Activision Blizzard in a deal that would make it a bigger video game company than Nintendo but raised questions about its anti-competitive effects. Microsoft makes the Xbox gaming system while Activision has created or acquired popular video games including Guitar Hero and the World of Warcraft franchise. Microsoft said it expected the scrutiny and thought it appropriate for regulators to take a closer look at the deal. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Amazon latest US tech company targeted by Germany

Amazon became the third US tech giant to be subject to Germany’s tough new antitrust rules targeting the dominance of a handful of powerful digital firms and will also face a separate probe in the UK. Germany’s Federal Cartel Office on Wednesday said more than every second euro in German online retail is being spent on Amazon, making its market position dominant. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday it’s opening an investigation into whether Amazon is abusing its dominance in its Amazon UK Marketplace. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


HSBC looking to sell Russian unit

HSBC is in talks to sell its Russia unit to local lender Expobank, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks on a deal are at an advanced stage, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public and no agreement is assured. Spokespeople for HSBC and Expobank declined to comment. A deal would mark another exit of an international lender after the Kremlin-ordered invasion of Ukraine. Societe Generale agreed to sell its Rosbank PJSC unit to the investment firm of Russia’s richest man, Vladimir Potanin, taking a roughly 3 billion-euro hit on the deal. Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase said in March they would wind down operations there. — BLOOMBERG NEWS