Fresh support needed if UK lockdowns are delayed

Boris Johnson has been warned by business leaders that a fresh package of economic support would be required if rising Covid-19 infections prevent the further relaxation of pandemic restrictions next month.

After the reopening of hospitality venues indoors across all four nations of the UK, the Guardian’s latest monthly assessment of economic developments suggests the country is on course for a short-term growth boom this summer.

Retail sales have surged above pre-pandemic levels, while customers returning to restaurants, pubs and cafes have driven a sharp rise in consumer spending to begin repairing the damage from the worst recession in 300 years.

However, concerns are mounting over the Covid variant first detected in India – B.1.617.2 – and the possibility that rising infections could delay the next phase of the government’s roadmap for relaxing controls in England.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said that despite substantial progress being … Read more

TSX Goes Skyward Again, to another All-Time High

Stocks in Toronto capped off a brilliant, if short, week with another strong performance on Friday, propelled by health-care and resource issues.

The TSX muscled higher 77.77 points to conclude Friday at 19,852.18, yet another all-time high. On the week, the gain was nearly 325 points, or 1.7%.

The Canadian dollar subtracted 0.03 cents to 82.81 cents U.S.

Health-care stocks pulled more than their fair share of the weight, with Cronos Group stronger by $1.03, or 10.9%, to $10.45.

Organigram Holdings tallied 20 cents, or 5.7%, to $3.70.

In the gold patch, Sandstorm Gold hiked 33 cents, or 3.2%, to $10.55, while Barrick Gold shone 90 cents, or 3.2%, to $29.13.

In the communications sector, AcuityAd Holdings surged 48 cents, or 3.8%, to $13.25, while Corus Entertainment collected 14 cents, or 2.4%, to $6.10.

Only utilities found their end of the boat sinking, with Northland Power down 89 cents, or … Read more

Ransomware: Five steps every business should take

In 2021, cyber security is never far away from the headlines. In the last month alone, the Irish health service was hit by a significant ransomware attack, leading to a total shutdown of its computer systems and widespread disruption to services.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the owners of a gas pipeline which delivers 45% of the fuel supplies to the populous east coast region of the US were hit by a similar attack. The pipeline was temporarily shut down amid safety and security fears and only reopened after a ransom, reported to have been over £3 million, was paid. These attacks on critical national infrastructure show just how sophisticated and dangerous ransomware attacks can be.

A ransomware attack involves criminals unlawfully accessing computer systems and then encrypting (and sometimes stealing) data. Victims are left a message saying that they can only recover their data by paying a … Read more