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    Pending home sales up modestly in June

    Supply and affordability held the market back

    Falling supplies and higher prices put a lid on pending home sales in June.

    According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it's Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) barely budged, but did creep up 0.2% from May to 110.8. That puts the index 1.0% higher than it was a year ago and at its second highest reading over the past 12 months. Nonetheless, the PHSI is down considerably from this year's peak level of 115.0 in April.

    "With only the Northeast region having an adequate supply of homes for sale, the reoccurring dilemma of strained supply causing a run-up in home prices continues to play out in several markets, leading to the last two months reflecting a slight, early summer cool-down after a very active spring," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

    "Unfortunately for prospective buyers trying to take advantage of exceptionally low mortgage rates, housing inventory at the end of last month was down almost 6% percent from a year ago, and home prices are showing little evidence of slowing to a healthier pace that more closely mirrors wage and income growth."

    Yun said until inventory conditions markedly improve, far too many prospective buyers are likely to run into situations of either being priced out of the market or outbid on the very few properties available for sale.

    Sales by region

    • In the Northeast, the PHSI rose 3.2% to 96.0, and is now 1.7% higher than it was a year go
    • The index inched up 0.8% in the Midwest to 108.9, and is up 1.6% from June 2015.
    • Pending home sales in the South slipped 0.6% to an index reading of 125.9 in June but show a year-over-year gain of 1.8%.
    • In the West, the index dropped 1.3% to 101.3, and is now 1.8% below a year ago.
    Falling supplies and higher prices put a lid on pending home sales in June.According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it's Pending Home S...
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    Mortgage applications drop for a second straight week

    Contract interest rates continued their upward spiral

    Mortgage applications plunged 11.2% in the week ending July 22, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

    It was even worse for the Refinance Index, which was down 15% from the previous week, taking the refinance share of mortgage activity to 61.1% of total applications from 64.2% a week earlier.

    The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 4.7% of total applications, the FHA share moved to 10.1% from 9.9%, the VA share was 11.9%, and the USDA share of total applications rose to 0.6% from 0.5% 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) rose four basis points -- from 3.65% to 3.69% -- with points unchanged at 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) inched up to 3.67% from 3.66%, with points unchanged at 0.32 (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 moved to 3.56% from 3.53%, with points increasing to 0.35 from 0.30 (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 to 2.94% a gain of four basis points, with points increasing to 0.32 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
    • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs shot up from 2.86% to 2.96%, with points increasing to 0.30 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

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

    Mortgage applications plunged 11.2% in the week ending July 22, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.It ...
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    Improved small overlap rating earns Hyundai Elantra IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+

    The rating applies only to vehicles built after March

    Across-the-board good ratings for crashworthiness -- including in the challenging small overlap test -- have earned the redesigned Hyundai Elantra the top award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    The redesigned 2017 Elantra also has an available front crash prevention system that earned a superior rating.

    The small vehicle's good small overlap rating is an improvement over the previous generation, which rated acceptable. The earlier model's structure did not fare well in the test. Maximum intrusion into the occupant space was nine inches. In the new Elantra, it's only 2 inches.

    The good rating applies only to 2017 Elantras built after March, when additional modifications were made. Those changes included strengthening the junction between the door sill and the hinge pillar and modifying the frontal airbag.

    The Elantra's optional front crash prevention system avoided a collision in the Institute's 12 mph track test. In the 25 mph test, the car's impact speed was cut by an average of 22 mph. The system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

    To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests. It also must have an available front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

    Across-the-board good ratings for crashworthiness -- including in the challenging small overlap test -- have earned the redesigned Hyundai Elantra the top ...
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      Consumer confidence shows little change in July

      Cautious optimism is the watchword this election year

      Not much movement during July in the way consumers see the economy.

      According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index was relatively unchanged this month after increasing in June. The Index now stands at 97.3, virtually the same as the 97.4 it registered the month before.

      The Present Situation Index rose to 118.3, and the Expectations Index dipped to 83.3 from 84.6.

      “Consumers were slightly more positive about current business and labor market conditions, suggesting the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Expectations regarding business and labor market conditions, as well as personal income prospects, declined slightly as consumers remain cautiously optimistic about growth in the near-term.”

      How they see it

      Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved slightly during the month, with those who see business conditions as “good” increasing from 26.8% to 28.1%. At the same time, though, those who said conditions are “bad” also rose, from 18.3% to 19.0%.

      There wasn't much change in the way that consumers looked at the labor market. Those who think jobs are “plentiful” slipped from 23.2% to 23.0%, while those who believe they're hard “hard to get” also dropped -- from 23.7% to 22.3%.

      The view of the short-term outlook was slightly less favorable in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 16.6% to 15.9%; those who say business conditions will get worse rose to 12.3% from 11.2% in June.

      Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was a touch more favorable than last month. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 14.0%, while those anticipating fewer jobs fell 0.7% -- to 17.0%.

      The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to rise fell from 18.2% to 16.6%; however the proportion expecting to earn less also declined -- from 11.3% to 10.8%.

      The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 14.

      Not much movement during July in the way consumers see the economy.According to The Conference Board, its Consumer Confidence Index was relatively unch...
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      House of Smoke recalls Wild Boar Brotwurst products

      The products' nitrite levels exceed the regulatory limit

      House of Smoke of Ft. Lupton, Colo., is recalling approximately 4,692 pounds of Wild Boar Brotwurst products.

      The products' nitrite levels exceed the regulatory limit.

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

      The recalled items, produced and packed from April 27, 2015, to July 12, 2016, have the following lot numbers: 517240, 515160, 517160, 518070, 514080, 511380, 518090, 517001, 513211, 512221, 614110, 616210, 614050, 618150, 616060, 613160, 617070, and 612170, and bear establishment number “EST. 6273” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

      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 about the recall may contact James Barsness at (303) 857-2750.

      House of Smoke of Ft. Lupton, Colo., is recalling approximately 4,692 pounds of Wild Boar Brotwurst products. The products' nitrite levels exceed t...
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      Unrepaired auto recalls a major threat, report warns

      J.D. Power counts millions of unrepaired vehicles on U.S. highways

      Not a week goes by, it seems, without a couple of auto recalls. According to government data analyzed by J.D. Power, 437 million vehicles were subject to a recall in the last 20 years, with a record 51 million recalled in 2015 alone.

      That can create a safety problem if those issues aren't addressed, and the J.D. Power analysis suggests many are not. It says there are 45 million vehicles on the road that were subject to recall between 2013 and 2015 that still have not been repaired.

      The report's authors say this creates major challenges for everyone – carmakers, dealers, and consumers.

      "The steady surge in recalls, combined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) stated goal of 100% recall completion rates have made the number of un-remedied recalls still on the road a critical statistic for automakers and dealers," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power.

      Stephens suggests the industry needs to better understand how to communicate with vehicle owners to improve recall completion rates.

      Significant findings

      A few facts stand out in the research. Unrepaired recall issues are more common in older cars. The recall repair rate in 2013 to 2017 models is 73%. For 2003 to 2007 models it's just 44%.

      Work vans have the highest recall completion rate, at 86%. Full-size SUVs have the worst, at 33%.

      The size of the recall also seems to make a difference. If the recall affected one million or more vehicles, the repair rate was only 49%. If fewer than 10,000 vehicles were in the recall, the completion rate is much higher – 67%.

      Issues affecting the powertrain, electrical and braking systems get the most attention from owners. Alarmingly, recalls concerning airbags have only a 47% repair rate.

      Airbags most ignored

      In the last two years millions of vehicles have been recalled because the Takata airbags in them have a defect, causing them to spray metal shrapnel through the cabin when the airbags deploy. There have been at least 10 known fatalities caused by this issue, some of which occurred in vehicles that had been recalled but not repaired.

      "By better understanding the specific factors driving recall compliance among vehicle owners, manufacturers and dealers can better tailor their communications and manage the recall process much more efficiently," said Stephens.

      Stephens says improving recall compliance is a major need for the auto industry, saying it will ultimately help reduce the number of un-remedied vehicles still on the road.

      Last year Carfax issued a similar report, noting that the number of unrepaired recalls surged 10-fold from 2013 to 2015.

      Manufacturers generally notify owners of record by mail when a vehicle is recalled, Consumers should remain alert for letters from a carmaker and not automatically assume it is junk mail. It could well contain life-saving informtion.

      Not a week goes by, it seems, without a couple of auto recalls. According to government data analyzed by J.D. Power, 437 million vehicles were subject to a...
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      Would you drive less if it lowered your car insurance?

      Metromile pioneers pay by the mile auto insurance

      When gasoline price go up, consumers tend to drive less. It just makes economic sense.

      But if your car insurance premium went down when you drove fewer miles, would you also drive less? Metromile, a car insurance start-up, is betting you would.

      When you apply for a traditional car insurance policy, you are asked to estimate how many miles a year you drive. If you happen to drive fewer miles than your estimate, your rate doesn't go down.

      That's not how it works at Metromile, a company dead set on disrupting the car insurance business the way Amazon has disrupted retail. According to Metromile, customers pay a base rate for insurance, then an additional charge for each mile.

      A tracker that plugs into the vehicle's diagnostic port tracks the mileage for Metromile. The company said it only tracks miles and does not look at speed or other driving behaviors.

      Road test

      In a report last year, Metromile said it analyzed trips made by motorists who started a free test drive program and then later became pay-per-mile insurance customers. It found that, on average, these motorists drove 16.4 miles per day before paying by the mile. After switching, they drove on average 15.5 miles per day, 6% less.

      The company says paying for insurance by the mile completely changes the equation.

      “Drivers with below average mileage start to save money, whereas drivers with above average mileage pay more,” the company said in a release. “The less you drive, the lower your premium, so there’s a clear incentive to reduce your miles driven.”

      Currently Metromile insurance is only available in seven states – California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia. However, the company said it is committed to expanding its product to other states.

      In a review, NerdWallet says Metromile's advantages are that it does not measure driving habits other than mileage and that motorists who don't drive that much can save hundreds of dollars a year. However, there is no savings for those who regularly drive more than 10,000 miles a year.

      Metromile says it provides other benefits besides reduced insurance costs. It says when motorists drive fewer miles, they are also less likely to have accidents. For individual drivers, putting fewer miles on their vehicles reduces wear and tear and slows the rate of depreciation.

      When gasoline price go up, consumers tend to drive less. It just makes economic sense.But if your car insurance premium went down when you drove fewer...
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      Survey: housing market still suffers from 2008 hangover

      Economic worries now 'the new normal'

      The housing market appears healthy. Despite tight inventories, sales keep rising and so do prices. The market appears to have come a long way since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, when homes prices imploded.

      But a new survey suggests the market is still suffering a hangover. The ValueInsured Modern Homebuyer Survey found there is still some nervousness influencing home buying decisions today, a condition it declares as “the new normal.” In particular, it affects Millennials.

      When faced with a decision whether to buy or upgrade a home, 63% of consumers and 72% of Millennials say that the 2008 financial crisis has been a source or worry and affected their decision. From now on, the survey authors wrote, this is likely to be a consistent concern.

      Here are some of the sources of concern:

      • Nearly 59% of consumers as a whole, and 68% of Millennials, say global economic events, such as the Brexit, worry them.
      • About 63% of Americans and 70% of Millennials say the U.S. economy is worrisome.
      • Nearly half of Americans and 61% of Millennials says concern about national security is causing them to think twice before buying a home.
      • More than half of Americans and 71% of Millennials say worries about job security, or the difficulty in getting a new one, could make them hesitate.

      Roots of concerns

      For those who may have forgotten, the housing boom sent home sales surging and prices skyrocketing in the early 2000s. To make it possible for more people to purchase a home, lenders didn't always ask a lot of questions.

      Buyers with little or no credit were offered subprime loans that began with low “teaser” rates that adjusted to much higher rates later on. Because the interest rates on subprime loans were much higher than prime loans, subprime mortgages were “securitized” and sold on Wall Street.

      When these loans began charging higher rates, many subprime borrowers were forced into foreclosure. That set off a collapse in the market for subprime mortgage securities, a crisis that nearly brought down the financial system.

      All of that pulled the rug out from under home prices, and as prices fell, more people ended up in foreclosure. That, the survey concludes, is the cause of “the new normal” in housing.

      Bright spots

      That said, the survey did find a few bright spots. The housing recovery to date has been real. Beyond that, it found that confidence in the market, while not robust, is trending higher.

      The ValueInsured Housing Confidence Index measure was 68.7 points in June, up 1.7 points from March.

      The housing market appears healthy. Despite tight inventories, sales keep rising and so do prices. The market appears to have come a long way since the dep...
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      What millennials are doing to prepare for homeownership

      Thoughtful preparation is keeping the dream of homeownership alive

      Homeownership may be somewhat more elusive to millennials than members of previous generations. Delayed marriage and the crushing weight of debt has made the dangling carrot of homeownership a bit more difficult to attain.

      But millennials aren’t resigning themselves to a lifetime of renting. Rather, they’re chasing the dream of homeownership with intention and devotion -- and it’s paying off. Millennials are now the largest generation in the housing market.

      According to new research from TD Bank, nearly two-thirds of the generation are being conservative with their cash in order to come up with the money for a down payment (which, for 74% of millennials, is still the biggest hurdle to owning a home).

      In addition to cash savings, low-down payment mortgage programs and well laid-out priorities are opening doors for the 63% of millennials who plan to purchase their first home in the next two years. 

      From dream to reality

      Millennials are getting their financial ducks in a row in an effort to achieve the American dream of homeownership. Their top three priorities: saving for a down payment, paying off debt, and having a steady job.

      Once these goals are accomplished, 65% say they will have a partner or spouse as a co-signer. Additionally, 33% say they would like to pay off their mortgages sooner rather than later. One-third (33%) are planning on paying off their loan over a 15-year period.

      "It's encouraging to see millennials thoughtfully prepare to enter the housing market," Scott Haymore, Head of Pricing and Secondary Markets at TD Bank, said in a statement. “With today's affordability programs, owning a home doesn't have to be a dream, it can be a reality."

      But while the dream of homeownership may be crystallizing, the reality of what happens once you’re a homeowner may not be as clear to millennials.

      Saving for repairs

      Repairs and unexpected costs crop up regularly for homeowners, but many millennials aren’t budgeting for these expenses. Haymore says this could be why many millennials have difficulty coming up with a realistic monthly mortgage payment.

      "The costs of running a household can be a shock to new home owners," Haymore said. "Monthly expenses for utilities, homeowner's association fees, cable and internet, can add up quickly.”

      Nearly half of millennials racked up close to $5,000 in unexpected costs during the mortgage process, according to TD’s survey. But careful budgeting can help mitigate the risk of facing savings-annihilating expenses.

      Haymore recommends factoring in the cost of utilities, HOA fees and other expenses at the very beginning of the mortgage process. Doing so can give borrowers a clearer picture of their overall budget and help them determine a realistic monthly mortgage payment.

      Homeownership may be somewhat more elusive to millennials than members of previous generations. Delayed marriage and the crushing weight of debt has made t...
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      The pace of home price increases slows in May

      Portland, Seattle and Denver led the way

      Home prices rose in May, but not at the clip we saw the month before.

      The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, was up 5.0% in May from the same month a year earlier. Within that measure, the 10-City Composite rose 4.4%% increase, down 0.3% from the gain posted the previous month, and the 20-City Composite reported a year-over-year gain of 5.2%, down from 5.4% in April.

      The highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last four months were recorded in Portland, Seattle and Denver. In May, Portland led the way with a 12.5% year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle at 10.7%, and Denver with a 9.5% increase. Eight cities reported greater price increases in the year ending May 2016 versus the year ending April 2016.

      “Home prices continue to appreciate across the country,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Overall, housing is doing quite well. In addition to strong prices, sales of existing homes reached the highest monthly level since

      2007 as construction of new homes showed continuing gains.

      Month-over-month

      The National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.2% in May, with the 10-City Composite down 0.8%, and the 20-City Composite posting a 0.1% decline in May. Twelve cities saw prices rise, two cities were unchanged, and six cities saw prices fall.

      Regional patterns seen in home prices are shifting. Blitzer notes that over the last year, the Pacific Northwest has been quite strong while prices in the previously strong spots of San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles saw more modest increases.

      “The two hottest areas during the housing boom were Florida and the Southwest,” he said, adding that Miami and Tampa have recovered in the last few months while Las Vegas and Phoenix remain weak. “When home prices began to recover,” Blitzer added, “New York and Washington saw steady price growth; now both are among the weakest areas in the country.”

      Home prices rose in May, but not at the clip we saw the month before. The S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which cov...
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      New home sales rebound in June

      Home prices were higher as well

      Following a slump in May, sales of new single-family houses shot higher in June.

      Figures released by the Commerce Department show sales came in at an annual rate of 592,000 last month, 3.5% above the revised May rate of 572,000. It's also 25.4% higher than the same month a year earlier.

      Prices and inventory

      The median sales price of a new house sold in June 2016 was $306,700 -- up $17,900 from May and $17,500 from the year before. The median is the point at which half the houses sold for more and half for less.

      The average sales price was $358,200, a month-over-month gain of $6,800 and $28,900 above June 2015.

      The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of June was 244,000, representing a 4.9-months supply at the current sales rate.

      The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

      Following a slump in May, sales of new single-family houses shot higher in June. Figures released by the Commerce Department show sales came in at ...
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      Businesses warned about Pokemon Go security risk

      Security expert calls it a 'nightmare' for corporate networks

      Sometimes it can be risky mixing business and pleasure. The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) is warning businesses such a risk could occur if employees download the insanely popular Pokemon Go app on company-owned devices.

      The association has recommended corporations prohibit the installation and use of Pokemon Go on any devices used for business purposes. The group says that includes "bring your own device" (BYOD) phones/tablets with direct access to sensitive corporate information and accounts.

      AITAM CEO Dr. Barbara Rembiesa goes so far as to call the new augmented reality game a “nightmare” for firms trying to keep their email and cloud-based information secure.

      “Even with the enormous popularity of this gaming app, there are just too many questions and too many risks involved for responsible corporations to allow the game to be used on corporate-owned or BYOD devices,” Rembiesa said. “We already have real security concerns and expect them to become much more severe in the coming weeks.”

      She said to be safe, organizations must keep the app off any device the connects to the organization's network. Here are her concerns:

      Data breaches

      Rembiesa says the original user agreements for the game allowed Niantic to access each user's entire Google profile, including his or her history, past searches, and anything else associated with a Google Login ID.

      That is no longer the case in current versions, but Rembiesa says this meets the definition of a data breach for corporate-owned devices. It's also not clear to what extent data breaches took place before the change and what happened to the accessed information.

      Risky knockoffs

      Rembiesa says she has seen reports that some versions of the app that are on non-official download sites may include malware. The illicit software may allow cyber-criminals to take control of an infected phone or tablet.

      Rembiesa worries that unsophisticated users might not be aware of the risks inherent in downloading from any third party provider, especially if the device is used on a corporate network. She says Proofpoint, an online security provider, has already reported knockoff Android copies of Pokémon Go in the wild containing a remote controlled tool (RAT) called DroidJack.

      Encouraging bad behavior

      Making an exception and allowing the use of a game app on a corporate-owned device sets a bad precedent, Rembiesa argues. She says employees need to understand the importance of sticking with approved software.

      Despite its popularity, she says Pokemon Go must be considered a "rogue download," which is “any software program downloaded onto a device that circumvents the typical purchasing and installation channels of the organization.”

      Sometimes it can be risky mixing business and pleasure. The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) is warning business...
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      Verizon acquiring Yahoo business assets for $4.8 billion

      Yahoo content will be added to AOL's

      In the late 1990s, when few internet users had even heard of Google, Yahoo was the search engine of choice. Since then it has positioned itself more as a content provider and struggled to remain relevant.

      Its long expected acquisition by another company is finally taking place, as Verizon announced over the weekend it will purchase Yahoo's operating business for $4.83 billion. The purchase will give Verizon access to more than one billion users for its mobile platform.

      For Yahoo, it's the end of a long search for a suitor. For Verizon, it's part of a strategy to combine the company's mobile platform with a steady stream of content.

      Linking Yahoo and AOL

      “Just over a year ago we acquired AOL to enhance our strategy of providing a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers,”said Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam. “The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising.”

      Verizon said Yahoo will be integrated with AOL and both units will operate under a Verizon executive. Yahoo's core Asian assets – primarily its huge stake in Chinese online retailer Alibaba – are not included in the sale. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer said the decoupling will create value for Yahoo shareholders.

      “This transaction also sets up a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising and social,” Meyer said.

      Verizon says the addition of Yahoo to AOL creates a powerful combination of content and distribution. Combined, the company will have more than 25 brands under one corporate roof. Yahoo will add information content in finance, news, and sports, as well as an email platform with 225 million active users.

      Verizon said it expects the deal to close in early 2017, pending approval by regulatory agencies and Yahoo's board of directors.

      In the late 1990s, when few internet users had even heard of Google, Yahoo was the search engine of choice. Since then it has positioned itself more as a c...
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      Kapowsin Meats recalls whole hogs for barbeque

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Kapowsin Meats of Graham, Wash, is recalling approximately 11,658 pounds of varying weights of boxed/bagged whole hogs for barbeque

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      Three Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- case-patients have been identified with illness onset dates ranging from July 5 – 7, 2016.

      The whole roaster hogs, produced between June 13, 2016, and July 15, 2016, bear establishment number “EST. 1628M” inside the USDA mark of inspection. They were shipped to various individuals, retail locations, institutions and distributors in Washington.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact John Anderson at (253) 847-1777.

      Kapowsin Meats of Graham, Wash, is recalling approximately 11,658 pounds of varying weights of boxed/bagged whole hogs for barbeque The product may...
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      General Motors recalls vehicles with defective electronic park lock levers

      The electronic park lock lever may allow the ignition key to be removed without the transmission being in PARK

      General Motors is recalling model year 2016-2017 Buick Veranos and 2016 Chevrolet Malibus whose electronic park lock lever may allow the ignition key to be removed without the transmission being in PARK.

      Additionally, 2013 Buick Encores, 2011 Buick Regals, 2013-2014 Buick Veranos, 2011-2016 Chevrolet Cruzes, 2010-2013 Chevrolet Equinoxs 2013-2015 Chevrolet Malibus, and 2011-2013 GMC Terrain vehicles may have been serviced with similar defective replacement electronic park lock levers. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 114, "Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention."

      If the key is removed without the transmission in PARK, the vehicle may roll away as occupants are exiting, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and if necessary replace the key cylinder lock housing, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020, Buiick 1-800-521-7300, and GMC 1-800-462-8782. GM's numbers for this recall are 50490 and 50491.

      General Motors is recalling model year 2016-2017 Buick Veranos and 2016 Chevrolet Malibus whose electronic park lock lever may allow the ignition key to be...
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      Scientists explain why Alzheimer's disease always gets worse

      The damaging protein hops from neuron to neuron, researchers say

      Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have identified a way they say Alzheimer's disease can spread through the brain.

      Their study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, says the toxic protein tau jumps from one neuron to another. They say their discovery helps explain why just one area of the brain is affected when Alzheimer's begins, but that much of the brain is damaged in the disease's later stages.

      They say it also explains why Alzheimer's always gets progressively worse, never better. Significantly, however, that could change.

      “By learning how tau spreads, we may be able to stop it from jumping from neuron to neuron,” said Karen Duff, professor in the department of pathology and cell biology.

      Limiting the damage

      If doctors were successful in doing so, she says they might be able to stop or limit the progression of the disease.

      This isn't the first time researchers have suggested that Alzheimer’s can spread through the brain. The idea first gained traction among medical scientists earlier in the decade when it was found tau moved from neuron to neuron through the brains of mice.

      The latest study found that tau travels within the brain, moving from neuron to neuron. That allows it to affect other parts of the brain. Duff says that has important clinical implications.

      Important implications

      “When tau is released into the extracellular space, it would be much easier to target the protein with therapeutic agents, such as antibodies, than if it had remained in the neuron,” she said.

      The new study is just the latest in an area that is receiving intense focus as the large Baby Boom generation enters old age. Health policymakers are concerned about the huge toll on the healthcare system if Alzheimer's cases multiply as predicted.

      In one of the most promising recent developments, scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and UCLA found they could reverse memory loss.

      It was an extremely small study, but the researchers say they are excited because it could hold significant potential. The therapy uses existing drugs, along with a strict program of dietary changes, brain stimulation, physical exercise, and sleep optimization.

      Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have identified a way they say Alzheimer's disease can spread through the brain.Their study, publishe...
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      Consumers deeper in debt despite efforts to avoid it

      Research shows Great Recession affected consumers' attitudes about money

      The Great Depression had a huge impact on the generation that came of age in the 1930s and fought World War II.

      They were careful with their money and saved for the future. They ended up raising their children, the Baby Boomers, in an era of prosperity.

      In some respects, the Great Recession, accented by the financial crisis of 2008, has had a similar effect on today's young consumers. A report by the market research firm Packaged Facts finds today's consumers are frugal and cautious with money, usually out of necessity.

      The authors conclude that the recession reshaped how consumers approach money, and in particular, debt. They don't take on debt unless they have to. At least, that's what they told the researchers.

      The report found that 72% of consumers describe themselves as more conservative when it comes to debt, and attribute that trait to the recession that ended seven years ago. Remarkably, that feeling was expressed in large numbers across all demographic segments.

      "What we are seeing is that most consumers view their financial situation with uncertainty, a perception that likely affects how they plan for and execute financial decisions,” said David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.

      Conflicting data

      That could explain why the economy has limped along with anemic growth since the recovery began. Yet there are a few things it doesn't explain.

      Consumers don't seem to be reluctant to go into debt to purchase a new car. Month after month, new car sales have set records, with transaction prices averaging just under $34,000.

      Credit card debt has also surged. In a recent report, the credit card comparison site CardHub warned that in the second half of last year, consumers went on the biggest credit card binge in the history of its annual review. It said total credit card debt rose by $71 billion in 2015.

      There was one fact that was particularly worrying. In the last three months of the year, consumers charged more on their plastic than in all of 2014.

      If Packaged Facts is correct that consumers are trying to avoid debt in the post-recession era, the numbers suggest that they are having difficulty doing so.

      The Great Depression had a huge impact on the generation that came of age in the 1930s and fought World War II.They were careful with their money and s...
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      Cycling Sports Group recalls commuter bicycles

      The bicycle’s fork axle can crack, posing a fall hazard

      Cycling Sports Group of Wilton, Conn., is recalling about 3,500 Cannondale commuter bicycles in the U.S. and Canada.

      The bicycle’s fork axle can crack, posing a fall hazard.

      The firm has received 30 reports of the bicycle’s fork axle cracking, including one fall that resulted in a concussion and bruising.

      This recall involves 2010-2012 Cannondale Bad Boy and Bad Girl commuter bicycles. They were sold in black. Only bicycles with date codes beginning with P, Q and RB through RL are included in this recall. The date code is located on the bottom of the bicycle fork.

      The frame is matte black. A Cannondale decal can be found on the downtube.

      The bicycles, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at authorized Cannondale dealers nationwide from June 2010, through December 2014, for between $1,000 and $1,800.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and take them to the nearest authorized Cannondale dealer for a free repair. Cannondale dealers will replace the fork free of charge.

      Consumers may contact Cannondale at 800-726-2453 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at custserve@cyclingsportsgroup.com or online at www.cannondale.com and click on Safety Notices and Recalls at the bottom right-hand corner of the main page for more information.

      Cycling Sports Group of Wilton, Conn., is recalling about 3,500 Cannondale commuter bicycles in the U.S. and Canada. The bicycle’s fork axle can cr...
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