Current Events in June 2016

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    Teen summer employment gains on the decline

    May saw a slow start to the traditional hiring season

    Teenagers are finding jobs this summer, but not as many as they used to.

    According to an analysis of the latest government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 156,000 in May -- a drop of 14% from last year.

    Over the previous five years an average of 1,259,200 teens were added to the workforce between May 1 and July 31. While May typically experiences the smallest hiring gains of the three-month period, this was the slowest start to the summer hiring season since 2011, when just 71,000 teenagers found jobs in May.

    “Low hiring in May does not necessarily portend an overall drop in summer hiring,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In 2007, just 62,000 teenagers found employment in May, but total job gains for the summer exceeded 1.6 million. However, the general trend in summer employment among teens has been downward and that trend has been going on since the late 1970s,” .

    Challenger said numerous factors have contributed to the decline of teen employment. “Economic downturns certainly played a role in accelerating the trend,” he noted, adding, “it is hardly the only factor. Even the relatively high-flying 1990s saw the number of working teens fall.”

    A worrisome trend

    Since the 1970s, the number of manufacturing and other skilled blue-collar jobs have disappeared, along with other semi-skilled jobs that could be shipped overseas, such as call center jobs. Americans who might have gravitated toward these opportunities were pushed down the ladder into lower-skilled, lower-paying service jobs that were once dominated by teenagers.

    “Teens were basically pushed out of the market,” said Challenger. “They continue to have opportunities in the classic summer job settings, such as summer camps, neighborhood pools, amusement parks, etc. However, the number of these jobs is not really growing. We don’t see a dozen new amusement parks or summer camps start up every year. Meanwhile, restaurants and retail outlets are still hiring teens, but not as many as in the past, because they simply don’t need as many workers to meet seasonal demand.”

    Challenger said there is mounting evidence that teens are not pursuing traditional summer jobs like they used to. “Many are enrolled in summer educational programs. More are volunteering. And, others are pursuing money-making opportunities that fall below the radar of standard employment measures, such as unpaid internships or entrepreneurial ventures.”  

    Teenagers are finding jobs this summer, but not as many as they used to. According to an analysis of the latest government data by outplacement firm Cha...

    Mortgage rates at three year low

    Despite that, mortgage applications dipped last week

    From a financial standpoint, this is not a bad time to be taking out a mortgage. Home loan rates have fallen once again and haven't been this low in three years.

    Bankrate.com's weekly national survey found the 30-year fixed rate mortgage at an average 3.69%, the lowest point since May 2013.

    The 30-year fixed on a jumbo is even lower – 3.67%. The average 15-year fixed mortgage is now below 3%, at 2.94%. That's lower than the five and seven year ARMs, which are 3.05% and 3.23% respectively.

    Borrowers can thank the bond market for their good fortune. Mortgage rates are keyed to bond yields, and with money from overseas pouring into the U.S. Treasury market lately, bond yields have fallen below 1.6%.

    Uncertainty rattles the markets

    Bankrate attributes falling yields to investor uncertainty over next week's vote in the UK on whether or not to exit the European Union, the so-called Brexit vote. Yields on long-term German government bonds actually fell into negative territory this week and worldwide, there is now more than $10 trillion in debt with a negative yield.

    Thats why so many international investors are moving money into U.S. bonds – the yield may be tiny, but at least they're earning something. The more demand there is for U.S. government bonds, the less interest the Treasury Department has to pay investors.

    Mortgage applications dip

    Despite the near record low mortgage rates, fewer consumers are taking advantage of them. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported this week that applications fell 2.4% from the previous week, which included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.

    MBA separates refinance from purchase loan applications. In the latest week it found purchase applications fell more than those from current homeowners who are refinancing.

    At the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.69 percent, the monthly principal and interest payment for a $200,000 loan is $919.44.

    From a financial standpoint, this is not a bad time to be taking out a mortgage. Home loan rates have fallen once again and haven't been this low in three...

    New home construction dips in May

    Plans for building in the months ahead edged higher

    A bit of a slowdown last month for the home construction industry.

    The Commerce Department reports ground-breaking for privately-owned housing dipped 0.3% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,164,000. Even with the decline though, the pace of construction is 9.5% ahead of the same month last year.

    Housing starts for single-family homes were up 0.3% from April and 10.1% from a year ago to a rate of 764,000. The rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 396,000, up 1.3% from the month before and 10.0% from May 2015.

    Building permits

    Looking ahead, building permits for privately-owned housing units rose 0.7% from April but plunged 10.1% from the same month the year before to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,138,000.

    Single-family authorizations posted a 2.0% month-over-month decline in May to a rate of 726,000, while permits for units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 381,000 -- up 5.7% from April.

    The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

    A bit of a slowdown last month for the home construction industry.The Commerce Department reports ground-breaking for privately-owned housing dipped 0....

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      Taylors Candy recalls Stuckey’s Sunflower Kernels

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Taylors Candy of Alsip, Ill., is recalling Stuckey’s bags of Sunflower Kernels.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product comes in a 5.5-oz., peg bag package with a code date of 1 1036 stamped on the front of the bag. It was distributed to retail stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it but and either return it to the place of purchase or discard it.

      Consumers seeking information may contact the company call at 708- 371-6144 between 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. (CST) Monday through Friday or by email at info@taylorscandy.com.

      Taylors Candy of Alsip, Ill., is recalling Stuckey’s bags of Sunflower Kernels. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. ...

      Grand Rapids Chair recalls chairs and barstools

      The back leg of the chairs can bend and the seat tabs or screws on the seat can loosen

      Grand Rapids Chair Company of Byron Center, Mich., is recalling about 2,300 Sadie Chairs and barstools.

      The back leg of the chairs can bend and the seat tabs or screws on the seat can loosen. When loose, pinch points between the seat and steel frame are created, posing a risk of injury.

      The firm has received three reports of finger injuries including a finger laceration, bruise and fracture.

      This recall involves Grand Rapids Chair Company Sadie chairs (model 837) and barstools (model 837S). The model number is printed on the underside of the chair, on the care and use instruction label.

      The chairs have a seat height of 18.5” and overall width of 22.5”, and the barstools have a seat height of 30” and overall width of 22.5”. The Sadie chairs have a steel frame of various colors with a wood seat base and seatback. The Sadie barstools have a steel frame of various colors, with a footrest and a wood seat base and seatback.

      The chairs and barstools, manufactured in the U.S., were sold exclusively by Grand Rapids Chair sales representatives and distributors, both directly to end users and in the company’s commercial showrooms in Byron Center, Mich., and Chicago, Ill., from June 2014, through January 2016, for between $150 and $200.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled chairs and barstools and contact Grand Rapids Chair Company to schedule a free repair.

      Consumers may contact Grand Rapids Chair Company toll-free at (866) 453-4748 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at quality@grandrapidschair.com or online at http://grandrapidschair.com/ for more information.

      Grand Rapids Chair Company of Byron Center, Mich., is recalling about 2,300 Sadie Chairs and barstools. The back leg of the chairs can bend and the...

      Ford recalls model year 2016 Lincoln MKX vehicles

      The child seat tether anchors in the second row center seating position are blocked

      Ford Motor Company is recalling five model year 2016 Lincoln MKX vehicles manufactured September 24, 2015.

      An incorrect seat back trim cover was installed on the affected vehicles, blocking the child seat tether anchors in the second row center seating position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 225, "Child restraint anchorage systems."

      An improperly anchored child seat can increase the risk of injury in a crash.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the seat back trim cover and tether cover bezel on the second row, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 13, 2016.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 16C09.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling five model year 2016 Lincoln MKX vehicles manufactured September 24, 2015. An incorrect seat back trim cover was in...

      Fed once again keeps interest rates where they are

      Seven years of easy money still hasn't sufficiently stoked the economy

      What are we to take away from the Federal Reserve's unsurprising decision this week not to raise interest rates?

      That seven years of easy money at historically low interest rates has done little to spur economic growth.

      Interest rate hikes are usually initiated to slow inflation, but inflation has barely moved for years. Falling prices have been a greater fear.

      So why did the Fed raise its key interest rate a quarter point back in December and suggest that there could be several more increases this year? That now appears to have been based largely on hope. Policymakers dearly want to “normalize” rates so they will be able to lower them again in case of a financial crisis.

      The very real problem, however, is that raising rates amid economic weakness threatens to make the economy even weaker. In its statement, the Fed said it sees signs of strength as well as things that give it pause.

      Pluses and minuses

      On the plus side, household spending has increased slightly; the housing sector has improved, and exports have made gains. On the minus side, improvement in the job market has slowed; inflation is less than 2%, and low energy prices, while helpful to consumers, have created severe recessionary conditions in parts of the U.S.

      “Against this backdrop, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1/4 to 1/2%, the Fed statement said. “The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions and a return to 2% inflation.”

      Brexit worries

      Though the statement didn't mention it, Britain's vote next week on whether to leave the European Union – the so-called Brexit vote – was likely another big concern. Should Britain vote to leave, as current polls suggest it will, it could lead to economic uncertainty in Europe and possibly a recession.

      The Fed left the door open to rate hikes later this year, but made clear it needs to see more evidence of economic strength – notably, improvement in the job market and inflation of at least 2%.

      What are we to take away from the Federal Reserve's unsurprising decision this week not to raise interest rates?That seven years of easy money at histo...

      For-profit schools' accrediting body may lose federal accreditation

      The agency that accredited defunct Corinthian Colleges ignored warning flags, report finds

      The end may be near for the organization that issues accreditations to for-profit universities. Department of Education staff members who have been investigating the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) have recommended cutting ACICS' federal recognition. 

      “The staff recommendation is to withdraw recognition, which would mean the agency could not remedy its compliance issues,” the staff report said, charging that the ACICS had ignored warning flags at Corinthian Colleges, allowing billions of dollars of federal aid to flow to the now-defunct schools.

      The report follows calls for action from consumer advocates, educators, and state attorneys general, including California's Kamala Harris who earlier this month said the accrediting group's actions hurt thousands of students. 

      "The predatory scheme devised by executives at Corinthian Colleges, Inc. was unconscionable. And despite enforcement actions by the California Department of Justice and the federal government against Corinthian, ACICS continued to accredit Corinthian, hurting thousands of students in the process,” Harris said. “Students relied on Corinthian’s accreditation status, believing they were obtaining a high quality-education with real job prospects."

      The staff report found “extensive and pervasive deficiencies” at ACICS and recommended to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) that it terminate the organization’s federal recognition.

      But the wheels grind slowly in federal agencies, and final action is still likely to be at least 18 months away, a DOE official said. A federal advisory body will discuss the staff report next week and additional reviews will follow.

      What happens to students?

      ACICS currently accredits 243 institutions, most of them for-profit schools. If the Education Department finally denies recognition to ACICS, those schools will be unaccredited and ineligible for federal aid.

      In a blog posting, Matt Lehrich, communications director at DOE, said students at ACICS-accredited schools shouldn't panic.

      "The chain of events that plays out next will take – at minimum – more than 18 months. That means that many of the students who already have started at one of these schools will be able to complete their certificates or degrees before there is a chance of anything changing," Lehrich wrote.

      "Generally speaking, if you’re near the end of your program or you’re preparing to transfer to another college or university, this news probably won’t interrupt your program."

      Lehrich has other advice for students in his blog posting, which you can read here

      The end may be near for the organization that issues accreditations to for-profit universities. Department of Education staff members who have been investi...

      Volkswagen announces major shift to electric vehicles

      Company plans 30 electric vehicle models within 10 years

      Still coping with the aftermath of its diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen has announced a major shift in direction – away from diesel and gasoline powered vehicles and toward what it calls “sustainable mobility,” another way of saying electric vehicles.

      The company calls the initiative “Together – Strategy 2025.” It has announced plans to introduce more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles over the next 10 years. Eventually, it expects electric vehicles to account for around 25% of its global market.

      VW is projecting electric vehicle sales of two to three million units by 2025.

      While such a major push into electric vehicles would be a major gamble for most automotive companies firmly tied to the internal combustion engine, VW may see it as less risky. It was badly tarnished by revelations that its on-board software on clean diesel models was programmed to fool emissions test equipment.

      Image transformation

      One way to recover and improve its image is to transform VW from a company closely associated with diesel power to one more aligned with battery propulsion.

      Beyond that, VW CEO Matthias Müller said the company is convinced shifting to electric cars will align Volkswagen with the future of automotive technology. In other words, its just good business.

      “This will require us – following the serious setback as a result of the diesel issue – to learn from mistakes made, rectify shortcomings and establish a corporate culture that is open, value-driven and rooted in integrity," Müller said.

      Part of the strategic shift also includes development of a mobility solutions business that will develop and acquire new businesses in transportation. Specifically, that initiative is looking at ride sharing and car sharing.

      Self-driving car by end of the decade

      To achieve goals in that area, Volkswagen said it plans to provide the necessary resources to experiment with autonomous driving and artificial intelligence. The objective to have a competitive self-driving car by the end of the decade.

      While other traditional automotive manufacturers have made investments in electric propulsion, perhaps none has done so to the extent VW has laid out. The Volkswagon program will put it in direct competition with the much smaller Tesla, which has a several year head start and produces only battery powered vehicles.

      Volkswagen, meanwhile, is still trying to put the diesel emissions cheating scandal behind it. In April the company announced it would fix or buy back up to a half million cars involved in the scandal.

      VW has also agreed to establish a fund to address environmental damage caused by the excess emissions emitted by its clean diesel cars.  

      Still coping with the aftermath of its diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen has announced a major shift in direction – away from diesel and gasoli...

      Builder confidence on the rise again

      The outlook is strong for the second half of 2016

      Builder confidence is rising again after holding steady for the past four months.

      The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which measures confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes, rose two points in June to a level of 60. That's the highest reading since January.

      “Builders in many markets across the nation are reporting higher traffic and more committed buyers at their job sites,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady. “However, our members are also relating ongoing concerns regarding the shortage of buildable lots and labor and noting pockets of softness in scattered markets.”

      The HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The monthly survey asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

      All three HMI components posted gains in June. The component gauging current sales conditions rose one point to 64, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased five points to 70, and the component measuring buyer traffic climbed three points to 47.

      Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South rose two points to 61 and the West rose one point to 68. The Northeast dropped two points to 39 and the Midwest fell one point to 57.

      “Rising home sales, an improving economy and the fact that the HMI gauge measuring future sales expectations is running at an eight-month high are all positive factors indicating that the housing market should continue to move forward in the second half of 2016,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz

      Builder confidence is rising again after holding steady for the past four months.The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing M...

      Auldey Toys recalls Sky Rover toys

      The USB charging cords sold with the toy can overheat

      Auldey Toys North America of Quincy, Mass., is recalling about 325,000 Sky Rover toys.

      The USB charging cords sold with the toy can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers.

      The firm has received 35 reports of charging cords overheating. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves yellow USB charging cords sold with Aero Spin and Aero Cruz Sky Rover remote-controlled flying toys. The toy is shaped like ball with two blades on top, wings on the side and measures about 3 ½ inches tall by 5 inches wide. They are operated by a small one-channel remote control unit.

      The following item numbers are included in the recall: YW859110-2, YW859110-3, YW859110-5, YW859110-6 or TTYW859110-5. The item number is printed on a white sticker on the toy’s packaging. They were sold in red, orange and citron green. Only yellow USB charging cords are included in this recall.

      The toys, manufactured in China, were sold at Walmart and other mass merchandisers and independent toy stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from January 2015, through January 2016, for between $11 and $15.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the USB cords and contact the firm for instructions on obtaining a free replacement charge cord.

      Consumers may contact Auldey Toys toll-free at 844-303-8936 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at aeroproducts@auldey.us or online at http://www.AuldeyToys.us and click on “Safety Recall” at the bottom of the page banner for more information.

      Auldey Toys North America of Quincy, Mass., is recalling about 325,000 Sky Rover toys. The USB charging cords sold with the toy can overheat, posin...

      Rucker's Makin' Batch Candies recalls Dollywood Cajun Mix

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling specific batches of Dollywood Cajun Mix.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product is packaged in 9-oz. clear bag with Dollywood Theme Park label, and the UPC code 4900005033302. The packages with best by codes ranging from January 23 – November 11, 2016 were distributed at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

      What to do

      Customers should not consume this product.

      Consumers who wish to receive a refund or have questions may contact Rucker’s at 618-945-7778 or 888-622-2639 Mon. – Fri. 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (CST), or by email at ericf7@ruckerscandy.com

      Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling specific batches of Dollywood Cajun Mix. The product may be contaminated with Listeria...

      Credit scores: what you don't know could hurt you

      Difference in car insurance rate just one area where a bad score can hurt

      First, the good news. Most consumers understand the basics of credit scores and how they work.

      An annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) shows about 80% of Americans know that credit scores are important and are a major factor in whether people get a mortgage or a credit card.

      But the survey also reveals some significant knowledge gaps. For one thing, consumers very often underestimate the cost of having a low credit score. Just 22% of respondents knew that a low score could increase the cost of a 60 month auto loan of $20,000 by up to $5,000.

      More than half were unaware that credit scores are also used by businesses and organizations that are not in the business of extending credit. Businesses like insurance companies.

      Effect on car insurance rates

      In an independent study, the personal finance site WalletHub found that consumers with absolutely no credit rating paid 53% more on average for car insurance than someone with an excellent credit score. In some states the rate spread was as high as 122%.

      The study found that Farmers Insurance relies on credit scores the most in setting auto insurance rates. Geico relies the least on credit data.

      WalletHub said it obtained quotes for two hypothetical consumers who were identical, expect for credit score. One had no credit score while the other possessed an excellent credit profile.

      While it is important for a consumer with a poor credit history to know which companies place the most importance on credit scores, WalletHub said that information is more accessible from some companies more than others. It found Travelers to be the most transparent about its use of credit information when setting rates. It said State Farm is the least transparent.

      Other uses of credit scores

      In addition to insurance rates, CFA says credit scores are often used by utility companies to determine whether a new customer is required to place a deposit for service. Cellphone providers and landlords also consider credit information when evaluating a potential customer or tenant.

      Here are some other key facts about credit scores:

      • Credit scores are negatively affected by missed or late payments
      • Carrying a balance that approaches your credit card's limit will reduce your credit score
      • Cancelling a credit card will lower your credit score
      • Paying every bill on time, every time is the fastest way to raise a credit score
      • Paying off your credit card balance each month helps raise your credit score

      “The good news is that consumers understand the basics of credit scores, such as the importance of making loan payments on time,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s executive director. “The bad news is that this knowledge is limited and, each year, can cost them hundreds of dollars in fees on services and additional interest on consumer loans.”  

      First, the good news. Most consumers understand the basics of credit scores and how they work.An annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America (C...

      Wholesale inflation up for a second straight month

      Energy prices led the advance

      The cost of living one step shy of the retail level rose in May for the second straight month.

      The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand jumped 0.4% last month on top of April's increase of 0.2%. For the 12 months ended in May, the PPI is down 0.1%.

      Over 60% of the May advance is due to an increase of 0.7% in prices for final demand goods. The cost of final demand services inched up 0.2%.

      The cost of goods and services

      A large chunk of the increase in good prices came from the cost of energy, which surged 2.8%, thanks to a 6.6% jump in the cost of gasoline. Prices for diesel fuel, iron and steel scrap, fresh and dry vegetables, jet fuel, and oilseeds were higher as well. The cost of beef and veal fell 5.2%, and prices for electric power and for carpets and rugs also decreased.

      The rise in prices for services was due largely to the 3.6% rise in the cost for machinery and equipment wholesaling. Apparel, jewelry, footwear, and accessories retailing; inpatient care; residential property brokerage fees and commissions; flooring and floor coverings retailing; and legal services costs also increased. Prices for loan services (partial) declined 3.0%, and the costs for food retailing and airline passenger services also moved lower.

      Core inflation

      Prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services – the “core rate” of inflation -- dipped 0.1% in May, but it is up 0.8% for the 12 months last month.

      The complete report is available on the DOL website.

      The cost of living one step shy of the retail level rose in May for the second straight month.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the Producer Price ...

      Mortgage applications head downward

      Contract interest rates were uniformly lower

      Mortgage applications moved lower in the week that included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.

      According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, applications dropped 2.4% for the week ending June 10.

      The Refinance Index was down 1%, although the refinance share of mortgage activity rose to 55.3% of total applications from 53.8% the week before. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.3% of total applications.

      The FHA share of total applications fell to 11.8% from 13.0% the prior week, the VA share slipped to 11.1% from 11.5%, and the USDA share of total applications was down to 0.6% from 0.7%.

      Contract interest rates

      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) fell four basis points -- from 3.83% to 3.79% -- its lowest level since January 2015, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) dropped to its lowest level since last month -- to 3.75%, from 3.81% -- with points increasing to 0.26 from 0.25 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs backed by the FHA plunged 10 basis points to 3.61%, its lowest level since May 2013, with points increasing to 0.27 from 0.23 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs fell to 3.06%, its lowest level since May 2016, from 3.11%, with points decreasing to 0.34 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
      • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased nine basis points to 2.87% -- its lowest level since May 2015 -- with points decreasing to 0.26 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

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

      Mortgage applications moved lower in the week that included an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s ...

      Hy-Vee recalls salad topping and trail mix products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hy-Vee, Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling one of its salad toppings and additional trail mix products across its eight-state region.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      Mo illnesses have been reported to date in connection with these products.

      The following products are being recalled:

      • Hy-Vee Garden Style Salad Topping — sold in 6.75 oz. containers with the UPC number 7545004755 and with the following lot codes: 232A5B; 238A5B; 239A5C; 279A5C; 327A5B; 327A5C; 041A6C; 042A6B; and 111A6B.
      • Hy-Vee Trail Mix Bars — sold in 12-pack boxes with the UPC number 7545008401 and with “best by” dates between April 23, 2016, and Oct. 30, 2016
      • Hy-Vee Peanut Almond Dark Chocolate Protein Bars — sold in 8-pack boxes with the UPC number 7545010885 and with “best by” dates between April 2, 2016, and Nov. 21, 2016
      • Hy-Vee Caramel Cashew Honey Crunch Trail Mix — sold in 24 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040586 and with “best by” dates between July 10, 2016, and April 22, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix — sold in 24 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450041354 and with “best by” dates between Aug. 5, 2016, and March 14, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Dark Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix — sold in 8 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450041378 and with “best by” dates between Oct. 4, 2016, and April 11, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Raisin and Nut Trail Mix — sold in 9 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450040746 and with “best by” dates between Aug. 10, 2016, and March 14, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Raisin and Nut Trail Mix — sold in 26 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450016802 and with “best by” dates between April 26, 2016, and March 18, 2017
      • Hy-Vee Santa Fe Trail Mix — sold in 26 oz. bags with the UPC number 75450016826 and with a “best by” date of Feb. 16, 2017

      What to do

      Customers who purchased any of these products should discard them or return them to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee customer care representatives 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

      Hy-Vee, Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling one of its salad toppings and additional trail mix products across its eight-state region. The ...

      Subaru recalls model year 2003-2004 vehicles with airbag inflator issue

      The inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation

      Subaru of America is recalling 88,131 model year 2003-2004 Legacy, Outback, and Baja vehicles originally sold or that have ever been registered in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or "Zone C."

      These vehicles may be equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front airbags, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

      An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

      What to do

      Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front air bag inflator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-856-488-8500. Subaru's number for this recall is TKC-16. 

      Subaru of America is recalling 88,131 model year 2003-2004 Legacy, Outback, and Baja vehicles originally sold or that have ever been registered in Alaska, ...