State’s unemployment rate edges up to 7.7% in May

The Maine Labor Department says the state’s unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in May, up slightly from 7.6 percent in April.

But the preliminary figures released Friday show the rate dropped from 8 percent a year ago. The number of unemployed people in Maine totaled 53,800 in May, down 2,100 from a year ago.

Labor officials say May’s unemployment numbers were lower than the statewide average in all three metropolitan areas, which encompass the Portland area, Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn. 

Sony movies taken off Netflix streaming service

Sony movies were pulled from Netflix Inc.’s online streaming service Friday because of what Netflix said is a “temporary contract issue” between Sony Corp. and its pay TV distributor, Starz.

Netflix notified its members in a blog post on Friday, when movies such as “Easy A” and “Grown Ups” stopped being available on its “Watch Instantly” service. They are still available to be rented as DVDs through the mail.

A person familiar with the matter said Netflix’s explosive subscriber growth triggered a clause in Sony’s agreement with Starz that resulted in the stoppage. 

Food report sees prices rising further over decade

High food prices are likely to rise even further over the next decade, putting the poor at an increasing risk of malnutrition and hunger, a world food report warned Friday.

The joint report of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the risk of price volatility that has hurt farmers across the globe remains high. The OECD leader came out to back France’s demand for increased transparency and more regulation and public information in the farm commodities markets as a key measure to stabilize prices. 

Britain limits UPS air cargo, alleging flaws in security

Shipping firm UPS has been ordered to stop moving air cargo through some of its U.K. facilities because of security flaws, the British government said Friday.

The order is the result of a planned security check rather than a new threat to aviation — and a sign of heightened concerns about the vulnerability of cargo in the wake of an al-Qaida plot that saw bombs disguised in toner cartridges shipped on freight flights from Yemen. 

Oil drops to $93 a barrel on lack of economic confidence

Oil dropped to about $93 per barrel for the first time since February as the European financial crisis kept investors on edge about the international banking industry and the prospects for global economic growth this year.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery lost $1.94, or 2 percent, to settle at $93.01 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has retreated about 6 percent this week.

“There’s still a case for fairly lofty prices later this year, but right now, there’s not that much confidence that the economic picture will improve,” said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.