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    Autolist: VW owners getting a sweet deal

    Reparations more than make up for loss of vehicle values

    Suddenly, it's not so bad being the owner of a Volkswagen TDI “clean diesel” car. The settlement announced this week by VW will reward owners handsomely, according to an analysis by Autolist.

    Thousands of U.S. consumers have been stuck with vehicles they assumed were good for the environment. But VW admitted last fall that the onboard computer adjusted the diesel emissions when it sensed an emissions test was taking place.

    During the tests, the emissions were reduced to within standards. The rest of the time, the cars gave off emissions well above legal standards.

    As a result, VW agreed to a more than $14 billion settlement, requiring it to buy back affected vehicles and terminate leases, as well as pay consumers cash reparations.

    After studying the details of the deal, Autolist concludes consumers will come out ahead. The company reports nominal vehicle value has gone down an average of $2,017 because of the diesel emissions cheating scandal.

    250% to 500% bonus

    Owners, meanwhile, are getting $5,100 to $10,000 settlement reparations payments alone. That's 250% to 500% more than the loss.

    At the same time, the anticipated market value of scandal and non-scandal vehicles has recovered to 4.8% and 1.5% below expectations, respectively. That's sharply higher since March.

    Despite the recovery, however, it still takes a long time to sell a Volkswagen. Time on the market is up to all time highs, even for cars not involved in the scandal. Autolist.com says brand perception damage and the lack of a real fix for the scandal-affected cars may hurt sales for months to come.

    According to Edmunds.com's projections for June auto sales, VW sales are expected to be down only 2.1% from June 2015, before the scandal broke. Even more encouraging for the brand, VW sales are expected to rise 0.4% from May.

    Suddenly, it's not so bad being the owner of a Volkswagen TDI “clean diesel” car. The settlement announced this week by VW will reward owners handsomely, a...
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    Amazon promises more TV deals on Prime Day

    Shopping expert expects retailer to correct some mistakes from last year

    Amazon.com is releasing a few details about its second annual Prime Day, a July 12 shopping event that is designed to get consumers doing their Christmas shopping in the middle of the summer.

    The company says the special shopping day will feature over 100,000 items, with new deals announced every five minutes throughout the day. As was the case last year, consumers must be Prime members in order to take advantage of the bargains.

    “Prime Day is a unique opportunity to discover new items and great deals, on top of our already low prices,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime. "Following last year’s record sales, we have dramatically increased the inventory behind many deals.”

    Amazon racked up record sales on last year's Prime Day, but Phil Dengler, principal at Jones-Dengler Marketing and operator of the website BestBlackFriday.com, says the retailer has plenty of room for improvement.

    Irrelevant items

    “Shoppers were largely disappointed with Prime Day last year because of the sheer number of irrelevant items — beard growers, toilet paper, lighter sleeves and other items that no one really wanted,” Dengler told ConsumerAffairs. “While there were some great deals, ones that were comparable or even better than Black Friday, they sold out within a matter of minutes.”

    Amazon has already promised the deal inventory of TV sets in the promotion will be nearly twice the number available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Dengler says that means consumers should be able to snag some pretty good deals, if last year's prices are any indication. In fact, he says consumers with TVs on their holiday list might do well to shop in July, rather than November.

    “Last year, they sold a 32" HDTV for $75 and a 40" HDTV for $115,” Dengler said. “Both of those prices were better than the top Black Friday prices at the time.”

    But he says its unlikely TV deals will be available throughout the day, so consumers will have to pay close attention.

    Competitors will probably react

    Dengler says Prime Day looks promising so far, and will even get consumers better deals from Amazon's competitors. He notes that Walmart has announce a 30-day free trial of its free two-day shipping service. He expects Walmart will also roll out some serious deals of its own on July 12 as well.

    But what if you aren't a Prime member? Dengler says it probably pays to take advantage of Amazon's 30-day free trial.

    “If someone signs up for a Prime trial and finds that the service is not what they are looking for, they can simply cancel after 30 days and still be able to take part in Prime Day,” he said.

    The bottom line, Dengler says, is Amazon's Prime Day should serve as a profitable way for consumers to get a head start on holiday shopping.

    Amazon.com is releasing a few details about its second annual Prime Day, a July 12 shopping event that is designed to get consumers doing their Christmas s...
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    The Brexit vote: what's it mean for your money?

    According to many financial experts, the impact will be mostly positive

    Now that British voters have decided to leave the European Union, the shock on the financial markets has begun to wear off. Cooler heads are pondering what it means for the future.

    For U.S. consumers, the implications are mostly positive, according to financial experts who have been offering up opinions over the last few days.

    For the average person with his or her retirement savings in a 401(k) or other retirement account, it was probably unsettling to see the stock market sell off Friday and Monday the way it did. But by Tuesday, stocks were bouncing back and there are plenty of indications stock prices could go even higher from here.

    What about savers with money in Treasury bonds? Actually, those consumers have done okay and are poised to do even better in the future. That's because since the Brexit vote, the yield on newly issued T-bills has plunged, making older bonds paying even the miserly rate of 1.8% more valuable.

    Bond bonanza

    Here's why: appearing on CNBC Thursday, Hilltop Securities' Mark Grant predicted the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond would fall to below 1%. A bond with a 2% yield would be worth a lot more than its face value should the holder want to sell.

    Grant predicts the worst impact of the Brexit vote will be felt in the European Union, which he predicts won't survive. With other central banks around the world now paying no yield, Grant predicts money will pour into the U.S. market, keeping U.S. rates low.

    Low mortgage rates

    For consumers who don't own stocks or bonds but who would like to buy a home, this development would be helpful. Mortgage rates are based on the 30-year Treasury bond – the lower the yield falls the lower mortgage rates go. So already-low mortgage rates should go even lower in the next few weeks, making homes slightly more affordable.

    With international money flowing into the U.S., the dollar will get even stronger.

    That's bad for U.S. businesses that rely on exports because it makes their goods and services more expensive overseas. But for American consumers, a strong dollar means imported goods will be cheaper. Consumers who travel outside the U.S. will also find their money goes farther.

    Additionally, since oil is priced in dollars, a strong U.S. currency will tend to keep oil prices in check.

    Not as bad as it looked

    With the passage of several days, many experts have tempered their original dire outlook. Billionaire investor George Soros, who was among the most alarmed by the Brexit vote, has told the European Parliament he no longer views Brexit as having a “tragic” outcome for Europe.

    While an element of risk and uncertainty remains, the Brexit vote also has short-term positive implications for Wall Street. There is now near-universal agreement among economists that the Federal Reserve will refrain from the previously expected interest rate hike for the next few months. The low interest rate environment has been a major factor in the stock market's long rally.

    Now that British voters have decided to leave the European Union, the shock on the financial markets has begun to wear off. Cooler heads are pondering what...
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      Consumer spending rises in May, outpacing income gains

      Jobless claims were on the rise last week

      Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.

      The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased by $53.5 billion, or 0.4%. Personal income, by the way, also rose -- $37.1 billion, or 0.2% -- and disposable personal income (DPI), what you have left after the government gets its cut, was up by $33.9 billion, or 0.2%.

      Compensation, spending, and saving

      Most of the income increase came from a rise of $14.7 billion in wages and salaries, well below $40.4 billion advance in April. Private wages and salaries were up $11.8 billion, while government wages and salaries inched up $2.9 billion.

      Personal outlays, which is made up of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose just $57.0 billion in May, after a surge of $144.6 billion in April.

      Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $730.6 billion last month, pushing the personal saving rate down 0.1% to 5.3%.

      The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.


      After falling sharply in the preceding week, first time applications for state unemployment benefits jumped a bit in the week ending June 25.

      Jobless claims

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

      It's now 69 consecutive weeks that the initial claims level has been below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

      The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market as it lacks the weekly tally's volatility, was unchanged from the previous week at 266,750.

      The full report may be found on the DOL website.

      Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expendi...
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      Volkswagen recalls model year 2008-2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles

      The airbag control units may corrode and fail

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling model year 2008-2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles, in which the airbag control units may corrode and fail.

      If the air bag control unit fails, the air bags may not deploy in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of occupant injury.

      What to do

      Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the air bag control unit, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69O1.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling model year 2008-2009 Audi A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles, in which the airbag control units may corrode and fail. ...
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      Eillien's Candies recalls various sizes and brands of snack products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Eillien's Candies of Green Bay, Wis., is recalling various snack products containing Roasted-Salted Sunflower Kernels and Roasted-Unsalted Sunflower Kernels.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses to date.

      The following products, sold through retail stores nationwide, are being recalled:

       DescriptionFull UPC 
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET GAME DAY PRTY TRAY B 25OZ034952822434 
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET RNS SUNFLOWER KERNEL 16OZ 034952820881
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SPORTMAN MIX 1.75OZ 034952818956
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SPORTSMAN MIX 12OZ 034952814460
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SPORTSMAN MIX JAR 38OZ 034952820386
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SUNFLOWER KERNEL 2OZ 034952818949
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET SUNFLOWER KERNELS 16OZ 034952813661
       BLAIN'S FARM & FLEET TRAIL MIX 12OZ 034952814392
       BULK - R/NS  SUNFLOWER KERNELS 50# 404129
       BULK - R/S SUNFLOWER KERNELS 50#  034952142440
       BULK - SPORTSMAN MIX 25# 413674
       BULK - TRAIL MIX  25# 412965
       EILLIEN'S 10OZ SUNFLOWER KERNELS 034952131581
       EILLIEN'S 12OZ SUNFLOWER KERNELS 034952571103
       EILLIEN'S 14OZ R/NS SUNFLOWER KERNEL 034952563658
       EILLIEN'S 14OZ SUNFLOWER KERNELS 034952563481
       EILLIEN'S CRAN/SESAME/KERNL MIX 14OZ 034952586572
       EILLIEN'S R/N/S SUNFL KERN 12OZ 034952571134
       EILLIEN'S R/N/S SUNFLWR KERN 7OZ 034952575798
       EILLIEN'S R/S SUNFLOWER KERN 7OZ 034952575576
       EILLIEN'S RNS SUNFLOWER KERN TRAY 13OZ 034952572728
       EILLIEN'S SPORTSMAN MIX  22OZ 034952577365
       EILLIEN'S SPORTSMAN MIX 4OZ 034952575705
       EILLIEN'S SPORTSMAN MIX TRAY 15OZ 034952572926
       EILLIEN'S SUNFLOWER KERNEL TRAY 13OZ 034952572711
       EILLIEN'S SUNFLOWER KERNELS 4OZ 034952006094
       EILLIEN'S TRAIL MIX 22OZ 034952562613
       EILLIEN'S TRAIL MIX TRAY 14OZ 034952572902
       FIGI'S HOT & SPICY MIX BAG 16OZ 609883
       FIGI'S NATURES MIX 20# 680223
       HOLIDAY RAISIN & NUT 9OZ 041282995424
       HOLIDAY SNACKTIME SPORTSMAN MIX 11OZ 041282995318
       HOLIDAY SNACKTIME SUNFL KERNEL 12OZ 041282995349
       MAES DLX PARTY TRAY C 24.5OZ 034952415490
       MAES FIJI MIX 14OZ 034952415247
       MAES HOLIDY PARTY TRAY B31.5OZ 034952410549
       MAES SEDONA SNACK MIX 14OZ 034952415230
       MILL'S FLEET FARM RNS SUNFLOWER KERNEL 16OZ 034952363838
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMAN MIX 24OZ 034952362763
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMAN MIX 32OZ 034952361766
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMAN MIX 4.25OZ 034952363692
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SPORTSMANS MIX 1OZ 611179
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SUNFLOWER KERNELS 16OZ 034952363821
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SUNFLOWER KERNELS 6.75OZ 034952365511
       MILL'S FLEET FARM SUNSHINE TRAIL MIX 16OZ 034952363081
       MILL'S FLEET FARM TRAIL MIX 24OZ 034952360752
       PIGGLY WIGGLY R&S SNFLWER KERNELS 13OZ 034952574159
       PIGGLY WIGGLY RNS SNFLWER KERNELS 13OZ 034952574166
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SPORTSMAN MIX 22OZ 034952580990
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SPORTSMAN MIX TRAY 15OZ 034952574210
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SUNFLOWER KERNEL 14OZ 034952580945
       PIGGLY WIGGLY SUNFLOWER KERNELS 4OZ 034952579864
       ROYAL POUCH BAG R/NS SNFL KERN 11OZ 034952571349
       ROYAL POUCH BAG SPORTSMAN MIX 11OZ 034952571288
       ROYAL POUCH BAG SUNFLOWER KERN 11OZ 034952571356
       ROYAL POUCH BAG TRAIL MIX 13OZ 034952571523
       RUNNINGS 32OZ SPORTSMAN MIX 034952581621
       RURAL KING SPORTSMAN MIX 22OZ 034952584813
       SHOPPERS VALU SPORTSMAN MIX 2.25OZ 041130286704
       SUPER AMERICA SPORTSMANS MIX 11OZ 034952585377
       TRIGS 160Z SPORTSMAN MIX 034952583397
       URGE-DISTRIBUTED BY KWIK TRIP SUNFLOWER KERNELS 5OZ 039779010484
       URGE- DISTRIBUTED BY KWIK TRAIL MIX 3.5OZ 039779010538

      What to do

      Customers who purchased any of the recalled products should dispose of or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Eillien's Candies customer service toll free at 800-448-1556, Monday Through Friday 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CT).

      Eillien's Candies of Green Bay, Wis., is recalling various snack products containing Roasted-Salted Sunflower Kernels and Roasted-Unsalted Sunflower Kernel...
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      Fresh Express recalls Caesar Salad Kits

      The product may contain walnuts, an allergen not listed on the label

      Fresh Express Incorporated is recalling 7.6-oz. net weight Fresh Express Caesar Salad Kits.

      The product may contain walnuts, an allergen not listed on the label.

      No illnesses are reported.

      The following product is being recalled:

      BRANDPRODUCT NAMENET WEIGHTUPC CODEPRODUCTION CODEUSE BY DATEPOSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION LOCATIONS
      Fresh ExpressCaesar Salad Kit7.6 oz.0 7127930100 6G163B13A26-JuneAL AR, DE, FL, GA, IL IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, WV, VA, DC and Puerto Rico

      The recalled product was distributed to approximately 19 states primarily in the Southeast.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it. A refund is available at the place of purchase or by contacting the Fresh Express consumer response center toll-free at (800) 242-5472 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET).

      Fresh Express Incorporated is recalling 7.6-oz. net weight Fresh Express Caesar Salad Kits. The product may contain walnuts, an allergen not listed...
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      Lawmaker urges elder abuse predator list

      Officials see sharing information as key to reducing scams

      People convicted of sexual predator crimes go on a national list so that others are aware of the potential danger they may pose.

      A member of Congress has proposed a similar list for those convicted of running scams. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) says such a list is needed to help protect senior citizens from fraud and abuse.

      “Florida has a reputation as the best place in America to retire,” Graham said. “Unfortunately, that reputation is under threat by an increase in elder abuse and fraud targeting seniors.”

      Graham has introduced legislation to create a national registry of people who have been convicted of abusing or scamming seniors, to make them more easily identified.

      Florida sees rise in activity

      Using state of Florida data, Graham estimates that there were more than 2,500 cases of scams directed against seniors last year in her state alone. She says these crimes have risen by 74% over the last five years.

      Under her proposal, the Justice Department would design a registry that states could use as a guide to develop their own lists of offenders. The lists would be public and searchable, identifying people found guilty of committing both physical and financial crimes against older people.

      She notes that a few states already have such a registry. If the Justice Department created the model, she says, more states would provide the service.

      Once all the states created lists, Graham said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could then compile all the information and make it accessible through a national database.

      Information is key

      Access to warnings and information about scams and scammers could help consumers avoid being victimized, officials say. While technology has made consumers more vulnerable to scams, technology may also hold the key to prevention efforts.

      Last month Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear launched a text messaging service that notifies consumers in his state when a new scam surfaces or an old one picks up intensity.

      Through the program, Beshear has warned consumers in his state of a student loan debt relief scam, a Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes scam, and a scam targeting previous scam victims.

      Beshear notes that seniors are a major target of these schemes, losing nearly $37 billion a year nationwide.

      People convicted of sexual predator crimes go on a national list so that others are aware of the potential danger they may pose.A member of Congress ha...
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      Pending home sales post first decline in four months

      Sales were down in all four major regions

      After three straight months of increases, pending home sales have suffered a decline.

      The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 3.7% in May to 110.8. While the index reading is still the third highest in the past year, it's down year-over-year (-0.2) for the first time since August 2014. I

      “With demand holding firm this spring and homes selling even faster than a year ago1, the notable increase in closings in recent months took a dent out of what was available for sale in May and ultimately dragged down contract activity,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Realtors are acknowledging with increasing frequency lately that buyers continue to be frustrated by the tense competition and lack of affordable homes for sale in their market.”

      Yun said that despite mortgage rates hovering around three-year lows for most of the year, scant supply and swiftly rising home prices -- which surpassed their all-time high last month -- are creating an availability and affordability crunch that’s preventing what should be a more robust pace of sales.

      “Total housing inventory at the end of each month has remarkably decreased year-over-year now for an entire year3,” adds Yun. “There are simply not enough homes coming onto the market to catch up with demand and to keep prices more in line with inflation and wage growth.”

      Regional Breakdown

      • The PHSI in the Northeast dropped 5.3% to 93.0, and is now unchanged from a year ago.
      • In the Midwest the index slipped 4.2% to 108.0, and it is now 1.8% below May 2015.
      • Pending home sales in the South dipped 3.1% to an index reading of 126.6, but that is still up 0.6% from last May.
      • The index in the West was down 3.4% to 102.6, and is now 0.1% below a year ago.

      What lies ahead?

      Regarding the second half of the year, Yun says the fallout from the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union breeds both immediate opportunity as well as potential headwinds for the U.S. housing market.

      “In the short term, volatility in the financial markets could very likely lead to even lower mortgage rates and increased demand from foreign buyers looking for a safer place to invest their cash,” he said. “On the other hand, any prolonged market angst and further economic uncertainty overseas could negatively impact our economy and end up tempering the overall appetite for homebuying.”

      Despite last month's decline in contract signings, existing-home sales are still expected to be around 5.44 million this year -- a 3.7% surge from 2015.

      After accelerating to 6.8% a year ago, national median existing-home price growth is forecast to moderate to between 4 and 5%.

      After three straight months of increases, pending home sales have suffered a decline.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Hom...
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      Mortgage applications continue to see-saw

      Contract interest rates were mixed

      Mortgage applications were lower last week for the second time in three weeks.

      According to the Mortgage Bankers Association,  applications were down 2.6% in the week ending June 24.

      The Refinance Index fell 2%, while the refinance share of mortgage activity inched up to 58.1% of total applications from 57.7% a week earlier. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.9%, the FHA dropped to 10.6% from 11.7%, the VA share was 12.2% and the USDA share of total applications rose to 0.7% from 0.6% the week prior.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) slipped to its lowest level since May 2013 -- 3.75%, from 3.76% -- with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) rose four basis points -- from 3.70% to 3.74% -- with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA was unchanged at 3.61%, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs was down two basis points to 3.02%, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell to 2.88% from 2.92%, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.21 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

      The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.

      Mortgage applications were lower last week for the second time in three weeks.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association,  applications were down 2....
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      A strong rebound for consumer confidence

      'Cautious optimism' is the June takeaway

      A nice comeback for consumer confidence in June.

      After falling nearly two points in May -- to 92.4 -- The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® shot up more than five points this month to 98.0. The Present Situation Index jumped from 113.2 to 118.3, while the Expectations Index rose to 84.5 from 78.5.

      “Consumers were less negative about current business and labor market conditions, but only moderately more positive, suggesting no deterioration in economic conditions, but no strengthening either,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, improved moderately. Overall, consumers remain cautiously optimistic about economic growth in the short-term.”

      The current situation

      Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved in June. Those who said business conditions are “good” inched up from 26.1% to 26.9%, while those holding the opposing view dropped from 21.4% to 17.7%.

      The assessment of the labor market was mixed. Consumers who think jobs are “plentiful” slipped from 24.5% to 23.4%. At the same time, those who believe jobs are “hard to get” also decreased -- from 24.5% to 23.3%.

      Looking ahead

      Optimism regarding the short-term outlook improved in June. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 15.0% to 16.8%, while those looking for conditions to get worse was down to 11.4% from 11.7%.

      Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more favorable than in May. The percentage anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased from 12.5% to 14.2%, while those saying there will be fewer jobs decreased dipped from 18.2% to 17.9%.

      The proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to increase advanced to 18.2% from 16.5%, while the proportion expecting a reduction fell 1.1% -- to 11.5%.

      The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 16.

      A nice comeback for consumer confidence in June.After falling nearly two points in May -- to 92.4 -- The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® ...
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      GNP recalls chicken products

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      GNP Company of Cold Spring, Minn., is recalling approximately 55,608 pounds of chicken products.

      Sand and black soil were found in some of the products. The source of the contamination is currently under investigation.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

      The following chicken products produced from June 6 to June 9, 2016, are being recalled:

      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN WINGETTES & DRUMMETTES 32900” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016 and 6/20/16.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump Chicken Tenders 34400” with a use-by date of 6/16/2016, 6/18/2016, and 6/19/2016
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST PORTIONS 24700” with a use-by date of 6/29/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS 20500” with a use-by date of 6/20/2016, 6/21/2016 and 6/22/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS 30800” with a use-by date of 6/20/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST PIECES 36400” with a use-by date of 6/22/16.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN THIGHS WITHOUT BACKS 37800” with a use-by date of 6/20/2016, 6/24/2016, and 6/26/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS 20800” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016 and 6/23/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump UNDER GRADE CHICKEN WING SEGMENTS 22900” with a use-by date of 6/17/2016, 6/19/2016, 6/20/2016, and 6/21/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN WINGS 31100” with a use-by date of 6/17/2016, 6/20/2016, and 6/21/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN LIVERS 31300” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Just BARE BONELESS SKINLESS WHOLE CHICKEN LEG 37200” with a use-by date of 6/22/2016, 6/23/2016, 6/24/2016, and 6/25/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN WHOLE LEGS 20700” with a use-by date of 6/20/16.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump CHICKEN GIZZARDS 31200” with a use-by date of 6/20/16 and 6/23/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump Chicken Wingette and Drummettes 33000” with a use-by date of 6/22/2016 and 6/24/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Gold’n Plump Chicken Tenders 34900” with a use-by date of 6/23/2016 and 6/25/2016.
      • 24-lb. cases containing “Just BARE WHOLE CHICKEN 59405” with a use-by date of 6/26/2016.
      • 40-lb. cases containing “Just BARE CLIPPED CHICKEN BREAST TENDERS 53200” with a use-by date of 6/18/2016 and 6/20/2016.

      The recalled products bear establishment number “P-322” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were shipped for food service and retail distribution nationwide.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Jane Kalthoff at (800) 328-2838.  

      GNP Company of Cold Spring, Minn., is recalling approximately 55,608 pounds of chicken products. Sand and black soil were found in some of the prod...
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      Polaris recalls Ranger ROVs

      The ROVs can overheat during heavy engine loading

      Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 43,000 Polaris Ranger 570 ROVs.

      The ROVs can overheat during heavy engine loading, slow-speed intermittent use and/or high outdoor temperatures and catch fire.

      The company has received seven reports of the recalled ROVs overheating and catching on fire. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves 2015 and 2016 model year Polaris Ranger 570 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). They have either two or four seats and a rear box. “Ranger” is printed on the rear box and “570” is printed on the hood. “Polaris” is stamped onto the front grill. The ROVs were sold in several colors.

      The following models are included in the recall:

      Model Year

      2015

      Models

      Model Year

      2016

      Models

      Ranger 570

      Ranger 570 2x4

      Ranger 570 EPS

      Ranger 570

      Ranger 570 EPS HD

      Ranger 570 EPS

      Ranger Crew 570

      Ranger 570 EPS HD

      Ranger Crew 570 EPS

      Ranger 570 EPS ZUG

      Ranger Crew 570

      Ranger Crew 570 EPS

      The ROVs, manufactured in Mexico, were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from August 2014, through June 2016, for between $10,000 and $12,500.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris to schedule a free repair. Polaris is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday, or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off-Road Safety Recalls” on the main page for more information.

      Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 43,000 Polaris Ranger 570 ROVs. The ROVs can overheat during heavy engine loading, sl...
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      Integrated Food Service recalls ready-to-eat sandwiches

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Integrated Food Service (IFS), is recalling certain ready-to-eat sandwiches because that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled products were distributed nationwide directly to a number of school districts and to foodservice distributors that serve school districts. No retail products are affected by this recall.

      A list of recalled products and districts that received the products being recalled may be found on the IFS website.

      What to do

      Any school district that believes it may have product still in frozen storage that is affected by this recall may contact the IFS recall coordinator at (800) 560-9999 between 8AM and 5PM (PDT) Monday through Friday, or at by email at recall@integratedfoodservice.com for return or disposal instructions.

      Integrated Food Service (IFS), is recalling certain ready-to-eat sandwiches because that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnes...
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      National Frozen Foods recalls frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      National Frozen Foods Corporation is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of Not-Ready-To Eat frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There have been no reported illnesses attributed to the recalled items to date.

      The following product, distributed in retail stores nationwide between September 2, 2015, and June 23, 2016, are being recalled:

      PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONNet Wt.ITEM # / UPC FOR RETAIL PACKAGESLOT INFORMATION / CODE PRINTED ON PACKAGING
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11B1N
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11C1N
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11D1N
      Bountiful Harvest Green Peas40 oz.22486 119046E11E1N
      First Street Green Peas12 oz.41512 12134BEST BY OCT 28 17      
      First Street Green Peas40 oz.41512 08201BEST BY JUN 02 17 
      First Street Green Peas40 oz.41512 08201BEST BY NOV 11 17      
      Foodtown Green Peas40 oz.11153 3462834124-MAR 26 18 NFF3
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 07 06 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 07 20 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 07 27 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 10 06 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 10 25 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 05334BEST IF USED BY 10 26 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 07 18 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 09 28 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 10 07 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 10 26 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 11 03 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 11 11 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 11 10 17
      Great Value Mixed Vegetables26 oz.78742 10907BEST IF USED BY 12 08 17
      Great Value Steamable Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 08026BEST IF USED BY 10 04 17
      Great Value Steamable Mixed Vegetables12 oz.78742 08026BEST IF USED BY 10 09 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST BY 03 02 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 08 06 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 10 14 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 10 21 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 10 20 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 11 02 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 11 03 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas12 oz.78742 05336BEST IF USED BY 11 04 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas26 oz.78742 10912BEST IF USED BY 10 14 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas26 oz.78742 10912BEST IF USED BY 11 04 17
      Great Value Sweet Peas26 oz.78742 10912BEST IF USED BY 11 15 17
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076C3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076D3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076E3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076F3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076G3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076H3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076J3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076K3N    
      Live Smart Mixed Vegetables32 oz.603539NY6076L3N    
      Market Pantry  Mixed Vegetables32 oz.85239 00547Best by 03 AUG2017
      Market Pantry  Mixed Vegetables32 oz.85239 00547Best by 04 AUG2017
      Market Pantry  Mixed Vegetables32 oz.85239 00547Best by 04 OCT2017
      Market Pantry Steam-In-Bag Mixed Vegetables12 oz.85239 00494Best by 12 MAR2017
      Market Pantry Sweet Peas32 oz.85239 00549Best by 04 JUL2017
      Market Pantry Sweet Peas32 oz.85239 00549Best by 17 SEP2017
      Sprouts Farmers Market Mixed Vegetables16 oz.74875 00983USE BY 08 02 18 6B08G3N

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-253-8269 Monday – Friday 8.am to 5 p.m. (Pacific Time).

      National Frozen Foods Corporation is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of Not-Ready-To Eat frozen green peas and frozen mixed vegetables. Th...
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      Toyota recalls Prius and Lexus CT vehicles

      The airbag inflators could separate

      Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., is recalling about 482,000 model year 2010 - 2012 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids; and 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT 200h vehicles.

      The recalled vehicles are equipped with curtain shield air bags (CSA) in the driver and passenger side roof rails that have air bag inflators composed of two chambers welded together. Some inflators could have a small crack in the weld area joining the chambers, which could grow over time, and lead to the separation of the inflator chambers. This has occurred when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time.

      If an inflator separates, the CSA could partially inflate, and, in limited circumstances, one or both sections of the inflator could enter the interior of the vehicle. If an occupant is present in the vehicle, there is an increased risk of injury.

      What to do

      All known owners of the recalled vehicles will be notified by first class mail. Toyota and Lexus dealers will install retention brackets on the curtain shield air bag inflators at no cost. The retention brackets are designed to prevent the inflator chambers from entering the vehicle interior if separation occurs.

      Information about automotive recalls, including but not limited to the list of involved vehicles, is subject to change over time.

      Owners with questions may call Lexus customer service at 1-800-255-3987.  

      Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., is recalling about 482,000 model year 2010 - 2012 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids; and 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT 200h v...
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      Details of VW Dieselgate settlements made public

      Owners of affected VW, Audi vehicles eligible for buybacks or lease terminations

      The $14.7 billion settlements agreed to by Volkswagen today provide buyback and lease termination deals for nearly 500,000 consumers who bought the company's TDI "Clean Diesel" cars. However, the deals will not be available until this fall.

      The affected vehicles include 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs, and Beetles, as well as the TDI Audi A3.

      Volkswagen will offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for nearly 500,000 model year 2009-2015 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S., and spend up to $10.03 billion to compensate consumers under the program. 

      In addition, the companies will spend $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology.

      The settlements require Volkswagen to offer owners of any affected vehicle the option to have the company buy back the car and to offer lessees a lease cancellation at no cost.

      Volkswagen may also propose an emissions modification plan to EPA and CARB, and if that plan is approved, it may also offer owners and lessees the option of having their vehicles modified to reduce emissions instead of taking a buyback.

      Under the U.S./California settlement, Volkswagen must achieve an overall recall rate of at least 85% of affected 2.0 liter vehicles under these programs or pay additional sums into the mitigation trust fund. The FTC order requires Volkswagen to compensate consumers who elect either of these options. 

      Volkswagen must set aside, and could spend up to, $10.03 billion to pay consumers in connection with the buyback, lease termination, and emissions modification compensation program. The program has different potential options and provisions for affected Volkswagen diesel owners depending on their circumstances:

      Buyback option

      Volkswagen must offer to buy back any affected 2.0 liter vehicle at  their retail value as of September 2015 -- just prior to the public disclosure of the emissions issue.

      Consumers who choose the buyback option will receive between $12,500 and $44,000, depending on their car’s model, year, mileage, and trim of the car, as well as the region of the country where it was purchased.

      In addition, because a straight buyback will not fully compensate consumers who owe more than their car is worth due to rapid depreciation, the FTC order provides these consumers with an option to have their loans forgiven by Volkswagen. 

      Consumers who took out third party loans have the option of having Volkswagen pay off those loans, up to 130 percent of the amount a consumer would be entitled to under the buyback (e.g., if the consumer is entitled to a $20,000 buyback, VW would pay off his/her loans up to a cap of $26,000).

      Modifications to emissions system 

      The settlements also allow Volkswagen to apply to EPA and CARB for approval of an emissions modification on the affected vehicles, and, if approved, to offer consumers the option of keeping their cars and having them modified to comply with emissions standards.  

      Under this option, as part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers would also receive money from Volkswagen to redress the harm caused by VW’s deceptive advertising. 

      Consumers who sold their TDI vehicles after the VW defeat device issue became public may be eligible for partial compensation, which will be split between them and the consumers who purchased the cars from them as set forth in the FTC order.

      Find your options

      Eligible consumers will receive notice from VW after the orders are entered by the court this fall. Consumers will be able to see if they are eligible for compensation and, if so, what options are available to them, at VWCourtSettlement.com and AudiCourtSettlement.com.

      They will also be able to use these websites to make claims, sign up for appointments at their local Volkswagen or Audi dealers, and receive updates. 

      Consumer payments will not be available until the settlements take effect if and when approved by the court, which may be as early as October 2016.

      Consumers were cheated

      “Today’s announcement shows the high cost of violating our consumer protection and environmental laws,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “Just as importantly, consumers who were cheated by Volkswagen’s deceptive advertising campaign will be able to get full and fair compensation, not only for the lost or diminished value of their car but also for the other harms that VW caused them.”

      The FTC sued Volkswagen in March, charging that the company deceived consumers with the advertising campaign it used to promote its supposedly “clean diesel” VWs and Audis, which falsely claimed that the cars were low-emission, environmentally friendly, met emissions standards, and would maintain a high resale value.

      The settlements use the authorities of both the EPA and the FTC as part of a coordinated plan that gets the high-polluting VW diesels off the road, makes the environment whole, and compensates consumers.

      The $14.7 billion settlements agreed to by Volkswagen today provide buyback and lease termination deals for nearly 500,000 consumers who bought the company...
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      Why seniors should limit alcohol consumption

      Researchers say alcohol damages already dysfunctional immune system

      In recent years there has been plenty of research suggesting that there are health benefits that come with moderate alcohol consumption. Here's a study suggesting older consumers, in particular, should avoid it – or at least limit their consumption.

      Brenda J. Curtis, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Denver, says as people age their immune system becomes less functional and infections are more severe and harder to cure.

      Drinking alcohol, she says, damages the immune system and organs. The effects can be worsened by some prescription and over-the-counter medications, which seniors tend to take. As a result, seniors often are vulnerable to infections like pneumonia much more than their younger peers.

      “Our laboratory has been studying inflammatory and immune responses in the aged for well over a decade,” said Curtis. “We know that even healthy elderly individuals have an elevated basal inflammatory state, known as ‘inflamm-aging.’”

      It's hard enough for the body to recover from inflammation when you are old, she says. Adding alcohol just compounds the problem.

      “Our research suggests that alcohol intoxication perturbs the immune system of the aged both throughout the body and in local regions, like the lung,” said fellow researcher Elizabeth J. Kovacs. “Aged individuals also have decreased lung function and cough strength, which further escalates the risk for developing pneumonia.”

      Seniors are drinking more

      The research may take on added significance in light of recent research which shows that alcohol consumption has increased among the older population. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) produced the video below to highlight the rise in older Americans with alcohol dependency.

      NIH warns that drinking too much alcohol can make some existing health problems worse, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver problems, and memory problems.

      Health officials in New York call alcohol abuse among the elderly “a hidden epidemic.” The New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse reports that about 10% of the population abuses alcohol, but that as many as 17% of Americans over 65 have an alcohol problem.

      In recent years there has been plenty of research suggesting that there are health benefits that come with moderate alcohol consumption. Here's a study sug...
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