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The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Federal Reserve is considering whether to signal a wait-and-see approach to rate hikes at its upcoming meeting this month. 

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Hertz launches biometric lanes to make car renting faster

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CLEAR, the company behind the technology, also developed Delta Biometrics – the system used by the airline to streamline its airport lounge access.

“By teaming with CLEAR, Hertz gets a partner with an expanding footprint and proven track record to help us innovate the car rental process, improve the customer experience and bring meaningful benefits to busy travellers,” Hertz CEO Kathryn V. Marinello said in a press release Tuesday.

CLEAR’s CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker added: “You are you, and we’re creating a future in which your fingerprints, eyes and face are your best and most secure ID.”

The fast lanes are available for use by Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program members, as well as CLEAR members who opt to upgrade.

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‘Operation Sharpshooter’ hack hit government, defense firms

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Hackers infiltrated dozens of companies around the world with advanced malicious software that extracted information from their systems, according to McAfee.

Research released by the cybersecurity firm on Wednesday showed that the infiltration campaign — called “Operation Sharpshooter” — primarily targeted defense and government organizations.

The report identified that, between October and November, the cybercriminals targeted individuals at 87 companies using social media, sending them messages disguised as recruitment campaigns to get them to open a malicious document.

Once opened, another program called “Rising Sun” is installed, opening a “backdoor” portal that gave hackers the ability to extract intelligence and send it on to a control server. Attackers gained access to usernames, IP addresses, network configuration and system settings data.

“We know that this campaign was intended to conduct espionage, indeed it was only recently launched. The question of the ultimate purpose remains to be seen,” Raj Samani, chief scientist and fellow at McAfee, told CNBC via email on Wednesday.

“In many cases such attacks are a precursor for something else, however we are hopeful that identifying and sharing the details will prevent the true nature of the campaign from being carried out.”

It appears the attack could be linked to the Lazarus Group, a cybercrime collective that has been associated to North Korea by various cybersecurity firms, as it drew from the source code of a hack that targeted South Korean firms in 2015. However, McAfee researchers said it appeared “too obvious” to conclude that Lazarus was responsible, adding the attack could be a “false flag” aimed at diverting the attention towards the notorious organization.

“The original malicious documents were hosted in the U.S.,” Samani said. “In terms of attribution, certainly there are similarities with tactics and code previously attributed to the Lazarus Group, however we are conscious that this may be an intentional tactic to make it appear so.”

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OPEC’s oil output dips in Nov as Iranian plunge offsets Saudi surge

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In November, OPEC’s output slipped by about 11,000 bpd to 32.965 bpd, according to independent sources that OPEC cites in its monthly report.

Saudi Arabia pumped just over 11 million bpd, with monthly production jumping by 377,000 bpd. Figures provided directly by the Saudis indicate the kingdom pumped at nearly 11.1 million bpd.

That is set to plunge over the next two months. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said he expects output to drop to about 10.2 million bpd in January.

The November increase from Saudi Arabia was wiped out by a 380,000 bpd plunge in Iran‘s output, as the nation grapples with U.S. sanctions that snapped back into place on Nov. 5. Last month, Iranian production dipped below 3 million bpd for the first time since January 2016, when international sanctions on the country were lifted during the Obama administration.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also raised output in November, but those increases were offset by declines in Iraq, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela. The remaining OPEC members held production roughly steady.

OPEC left its forecast for growth in oil demand in 2019 unchanged at 1.29 million bpd, after lowering it every month in its last four reports. In 2018, OPEC forecasts that the world’s appetite for oil grew by 1.5 million bpd.

The group knocked down its forecast for non-OPEC production growth in 2019 by about 80,000 bpd. That is mostly due to mandatory output cuts in Alberta, Canada and new supply caps adopted as part of OPEC’s deals with 10 non-member nations.

Still, OPEC forecasts oil supplies from non-OPEC countries to increase by 2.16 million bpd next year, driven by risisng output in the United States, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom. In 2018, output from these countries grew by 2.5 million bpd, OPEC estimates.

With the rise in supplies outstripping the increase in demand, OPEC expects to pump 31.4 million bpd next year, about 1 million bpd less than in 2018.

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