The Consumer Price Index – the most widely used measure of inflation in the US economy – climbed 3 percent in the year to June, according to new government data. That’s sharply lower than the 9 percent rate at its peak a year ago, offering hope for both consumers and businesses that the recent era of inflated prices will soon end.

“This was a really broad slowdown,” my colleague Jeanna Smialek told me. “We’re finally seeing the kind of meaningful, real slowdown in inflation that we’ve been waiting for for a really long time.”

Perhaps even more important than the headline number, Jeanna said, was the cooling of so-called core inflation, which wipes out food and fuel prices. Economists were pleased to see that it rose just 4.8 percent, which was less than expected.

The positive numbers come 16 months after the Federal Reserve began its aggressive campaign to tame prices by making it more expensive to borrow money. But Fed officials are likely to avoid declaring victory just yet, and are expected to raise rates later this month.

However, if inflation continues to slow without a large increase in unemployment, the US could pull off a “soft landing” and avoid crashing into a recession.

President Biden ended the NATO summit with a speech that appeared to prepare Americans and his NATO allies for a confrontation that could last years. He compared the war in Ukraine with the cold war struggle for freedom in Europe, promising “we will not waver” no matter how long the war lasts.

Biden presented the war as a kind of test of wills between Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, and the West. “After all this time, Putin still doubts our residual power,” Biden said. “He makes a bad bet.”

Also at the top, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in his first public remarks since backing Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, suggested Sweden’s entry may not be a done deal.

Hackers linked to China targeted specific State Department email accounts in the weeks before Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the country last month, US officials said. It is still unclear what the hackers, who went undetected for a month, had access to. But US officials insisted that no classified emails had been breached.

The attack takes place at a time of increased diplomatic tensions between the countries. But the Biden administration, which has sought to improve the relationship, has an interest in downplaying the issue, said my colleague Julian Barnes. The intrusion revealed a potentially serious security breach in Microsoft’s cloud, where the US government transferred data from internal servers.

A federal court in Richmond, Va., has ordered a halt to work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is intended to carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia. The move came despite recent measures passed by Congress – with the support of the influential senator Joe Manchin – to speed up the project and move its jurisdiction away from the Richmond court. The case could be headed to the Supreme Court.

The spy Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) is the leader of a quiet American agency that performs a series of improbable stunts along with a rotating roster of kickass women and loyal handymen to take down the villain.

If that story sounds familiar, maybe that’s because it’s been told six times. And now, 27 years into the franchise, “Mission: Impossible” returns in theaters today with its seventh entry. While “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” is short on real surprises, our critic writes, it has reliable stunt shows and just enough winking humor to keep the whole thing from descending into self-seriousness.

Milan Kundera was a communist party outcast who became a global literary star with biting, sexually charged novels that captured the stifling absurdity of life in the workers’ paradise of his native Czechoslovakia. His most famous book, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, became an immediate success and was later adapted for the big screen. Kundera died yesterday at the age of 94.

“His work enchanted, and few did not submit,” my colleague Dwight Garner wrote in an assessment of Kundera’s work. “In every university town, people bought, read and pressed with Kundera.”

Authorities in Santa Cruz, California, began an effort this week to capture a sea otter. The animal’s crime: years of approaching wave riders and confiscating their surfboards, often damaging them in the process.

The otter — a 5-year-old female named Otter 841 — was raised at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to avoid making connections with humans. She was released into the wild, but she quickly lost her fear of humans and was soon spotted climbing onto watercraft and hanging out 10 in the area. Over time, she became more daring: This past weekend, she was seen stealing surfboards three times.

Have a tubular evening.

Thanks for reading. Sarah Hughes was our photo editor today. I’ll be back tomorrow. – Matthew

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