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S&P 500 hits record high as Wall Street brushes off higher inflation data
10 June 2021, 4:24 PM

US stocks rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a record high, as investors doubted whether a spike in May consumer prices would spur early policy tightening by the Federal Reserve.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index increased 0.6% last month after surging 0.8% in April. In the 12 months through May, CPI accelerated 5.0% in its biggest year-on-year increase since August 2008.

The jump partly reflected the dropping of last spring’s weak readings from the calculation. These so-called base effects are expected to level off in June.

“The numbers were slightly more than expected, but not way outside of the range … I don’t think this going to change the Fed’s view of keeping rates very low,” said Mark Grant, chief global strategist, B. Riley Financial.

Focus will now be on the Fed’s monetary policy meeting next week for more clues about the central bank’s stance on tapering its massive stimulus.

The labor market and inflation are two key factors for the Fed to consider tightening, and while inflation has risen, recent payrolls data was underwhelming.

A separate report on Thursday from the Labor Department showed the number of Americans filing for jobless claims fell less than expected last week.

“As the economy continues to improve, a lot of bottleneck pressures will start to fade. I don’t think there is any reason for the Fed to panic,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

At 9:48 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 230.84 points, or 0.67%, at 34,677.98, the S&P 500 was up 27.27 points, or 0.65%, at 4,246.82. The Nasdaq Composite was up 109.64 points, or 0.79%, at 14,021.39.

So-called “meme” stocks, which have dominated trading volumes in recent weeks, were again volatile in early trade, with several recent retail darlings including Clover Health and AMC flitting between losses and gains.

GameStop Corp, the stock most closely associated with the retail buying frenzy this year, fell 9.1% after the company said it may sell new shares. The videogame retailer also said the Securities and Exchange Commission had requested documents related to an investigation into the Reddit rally that sent its shares up 1 600% in January.

Boeing rose 2.0% after sources told Reuters United Airlines was in talks to place a multi-billion-dollar order for single-aisle jets potentially split between Boeing and Europe’s Airbus.

Ocugen Inc tumbled 15.5% after the drugmaker said it will not pursue an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate and would instead aim to file for a full US approval of the shot.

Focus was also on a major infrastructure spending bill, talks over which hit a deadlock in the Senate.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.55-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.17-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 38 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 58 new highs and six new lows.

Eyes and Ears, Memeza crime operation yields positive results
10 June 2021, 3:56 PM

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has hailed the continuous efforts by the Eyes and Ears initiative (E2), in partnership with the Memeza crime-fighting project, in its fight against crime that is wreaking havoc in our communities. This collaboration has yielded encouraging results through a number of successes (crime preventions) during the past few months.

The eyes and ears initiative (E2), which is an official joint crime-fighting initiative between the South African Police Service (SAPS), BLSA’s subdivision, Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA) and the Private Security Industry (PSI), has ensured that there is a quicker response to crime incidents. It has also assisted in developing a stronger police presence across the country.

BLSA says initiatives like Memeza ensure that assets at schools are safeguarded and therefore potentially save millions of rands which would have been lost through theft, burglaries and vandalism. The right to quality education includes having a school where learners are safe and have adequate infrastructure and facilities to do so. We all know that due to high crime levels, this is not the reality for many learners in the country.

Memeza is a non-profit organisation founded in 2012 and works in partnership with The National Civilian Secretariat for Police and South African Police Service to develop technology that can improve response times and reduce crime, with a special focus on vulnerable, non-fee-paying schools, hard hit by ICT theft.

The police alone cannot always tackle crime that is ravaging the country, and therefore a united front against crime is crucial to ensure that all South Africans feel safe, and that at schools, effective teaching and learning take place.

As soon as Memeza becomes aware of any attempted robberies, the E2 network is activated. This assists with quick responses from the SAPS and the private security industry and this highlights the importance of this collaboration to stop criminals in their tracks, says the national project manager at BLSA, Fouché Burgers.

“We also appeal to community members to take ownership of their schools and strengthen the relationship with law enforcement agencies and private security companies to prioritise safety. Tackling crime at schools will make sure that leaners access their right to education without fear of criminals. If one witnesses a burglary or crime at school, they can report it anonymously to the police. One criminal arrested means one step to a safer South Africa,” says Burgers.

Crime and vandalism at schools are of grave concern since education directly affects economic growth. This is why BLSA is being proactive when it comes to crime prevention to improve the country’s economic prospects, adds Burgers.

BACSA urges all security companies to join this important initiative. Private security companies that would like to join the E2 Initiative can get more information by sending an email to e2@bac.org.za.

Fouche Burgers is the national project manager at BLSA. 

Blast kills two at checkpoint in southern Libya
6 June 2021, 9:46 PM

A blast struck a checkpoint in the southern Libyan city of Sebha on Sunday, killing at least two people including a senior police officer, city officials and medics said.

A security source in Sebha said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber who detonated a car bomb at the checkpoint. The police were not immediately available for comment.

Sebha is located in the deep south of Libya, about 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Taraghin, where Islamic State carried out a bomb attack last year that caused no casualties.

Libya has suffered a decade of chaos and violence since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising ousted then head of state Muammar Gaddafi, but its two main warring sides this year consented to a new government.

But while the installation of a unified administration and a push for national elections in December are seen as the best hope in years for a lasting political solution, the process is still fraught with challenges.

Most territory is still controlled by local armed groups, major outside powers have not pulled foreign fighters from the front lines, and key figures disagree on the management of Libya’s economic resources.

England settle for draw with New Zealand in Lord’s test
6 June 2021, 9:40 PM

England offered stiff resistance in the final session to secure a tedious draw against New Zealand on day five of the first test at Lord’s on Sunday.

Chasing 273 for a 1-0 lead in the two-match series, England finished their second innings with 170-3 in 70 overs before both sides shook hands on a draw late in the evening.

Having lost day three’s play due to rain, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson declared their second innings at 169-6 at lunch.

England openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley arrived at the crease focusing only on blunting the new-ball bowling attack in a bid to save the test match.

The pair showed incredible patience in adding 49 runs by the 24th over before Burns (25) was caught in the slip cordon off Neil Wagner’s bowling.

Zak Crawley (2) did not last long at the crease as he dragged Tim Southee’s outswinging delivery straight to gully.

Captain Joe Root (40) was the only wicket to fall in the final session when he was trapped leg-before by Wagner.

Sibley continued to frustrate the bowlers at the other end and finished with 60 off 207 deliveries, while Ollie Pope was unbeaten on 20.

Earlier, New Zealand hoped to turn the result in their favour as they added to their overnight score of 62-2 with the loss of another four wickets before rain forced an early lunch.

England debutant Ollie Robinson was once again lethal in his opening spell, picking off the first wicket of the morning session as New Zealand nightwatchman Wagner edged a bouncer through to wicketkeeper James Bracey.

The tourists continued to look for boundaries to give their bowlers a chance to fight for a win but lost wickets at regular intervals.

Tom Latham was trapped leg-before on 36 by Stuart Broad before a flying Bracey caught Ross Taylor (33) off Mark Wood’s bowling.

Henry Nicholls (23) was caught trying to reverse-sweep Joe Root’s off-spin but not before New Zealand had added 97 crucial runs in the morning session.

Despite Burns’ determined 132, England were bowled out for 275 on day four as New Zealand secured a first-innings lead of 103, with pace bowler Southee taking six wickets for 43 runs.

German conservative state election win boosts Laschet’s chancellery hopes
6 June 2021, 8:06 PM

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives looked set for a resounding victory in a state election in eastern Germany on Sunday, in a boost to Armin Laschet, who hopes to succeed her in September’s national election.

An exit poll for public broadcaster MDR had the Christian Democrats (CDU) on 36%, up more than 6 points on five years ago, and far ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), who were on 22.5%, slightly down on the previous election.

Laschet, long-serving premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was seen as having made an uncertain start to his election campaign and had been facing calls to chart a more right-wing course to win back voters disenchanted by Merkel’s 16 years of centrism.

Casting his vote, state premier Reiner Haseloff had presented himself as the candidate of the centre around whom those opposed to extremism could rally.

“This will give us a boost for Berlin,” national conservative caucus leader Ralph Brinkhaus said. “It is a victory for Armin Laschet.”

The results were disappointing for most other parties, with the Greens, who are running a close second to the conservatives nationally, only in the single digits in the regional election.

“Sure, we’d like to have done better,” said their candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock.

Baerbock said the conservatives had benefited from voters rallying to the incumbent out of a desire to thwart the far-right, who had been as little as one point behind the conservatives in some opinion polls.

Haseloff said he had done all he could to persuade voters in the relatively poor region not to turn to the far right.

“I’ve done everything necessary and possible to persuade people that we need stability and a democratic centre,” he told reporters in his home town of Wittenberg, where in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses critical of the pope to a church door, igniting the Protestant Reformation.

Merkel, in power since 2005, is stepping down after the federal election, and senior CDU officials concede that it will be tough to retain their party’s appeal to voters after 16 years in charge.

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