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DeVry agrees to pay $2.25 million to NY graduates

The for-profit schools' ads went overboard, NY attorney general charged

DeVry University has agreed to pay $2.25 million in restitution to New York graduates, wrapping up charges that the for-profit school lured students with a...

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SEC brings charges against two men in Hamilton Ponzi scheme

The suit claims the men promised huge profits in ticket resales

Lin Manuel Miranda’s much-acclaimed musical Hamilton made a big splash in the theatre community in 2015 and 2016. Tickets for shows have sold out only minu...

PhotoLin Manuel Miranda’s much-acclaimed musical Hamilton made a big splash in the theatre community in 2015 and 2016. Tickets for shows have sold out only minutes after being made available, and scalpers have collectively made millions from those who are desperate to see the show.

While Miranda has publicly condemned scalpers who use ticket bots to snatch up tickets, more insidious individuals have tried to use the show’s appeal to scam people out of their money. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a lawsuit against two such individuals – Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton – claiming the pair operated a Ponzi Scheme that involved reselling tickets to Hamilton and separate concert events.

“From in or about January 2015 through October 2016, Meli and Harriton offered and sold a total of approximately $81 million of interests in four different entities. . . all of which purportedly engaged in ticket resales,” the suit states.

“Mirage of profitability”

The SEC alleges that the defendants collected millions of dollars from 125 investors in 13 states. They told these investors that they had a deal with a Hamilton producer to purchase 35,000 tickets that could be resold in the secondary ticket market for high profits.

However, the agency says that Meli and Harriton never had a legitimate contract and that the tickets were never actually purchased. In a press release, Paul G. Levenson – director of the SEC’s Boston regional office -- explains that the pair “were moving investor money in a circle and creating a mirage of profitability.”

Meli and Harriton accomplished this by using $48 million from newer investors to repay principal returns to early investors. Meanwhile, the SEC claims that the men extracted $2 million through shell companies that was used for an array of personal purchases – including jewelry, tuitions for private school and camp, and casino payments.

The SEC is asking for an emergency freeze of the defendants’ assets for the purposes of disgorging any illicit monetary gains, plus interest and penalties. Meli’s wife and one of the alleged shell companies have also been named as relief defendants for $365,000 in investor funds that they purportedly have in their possession.

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Walmart rolls out free two-day shipping with no membership

The days of paying for shipping may be quickly passing

Before long, paying for shipping when you order something online will be unthinkable.During the holiday shopping season, nearly all retailers waive shi...

PhotoBefore long, paying for shipping when you order something online will be unthinkable.

During the holiday shopping season, nearly all retailers waive shipping charges for purchases over a certain amount. Amazon.com's Prime account, which costs $99 per year, provides free two-day shipping all year round.

Walmart, which countered Prime with its own two-day shipping program for half the cost, has now upped the ante, saying it will provide free two-day shipping on more than two million items with no membership fee.

If the item you purchase is not among the two million covered by the new program, Walmart says it will provide free shipping if the order totals $35, down from $50. Items shipped for pick-up at stores have no price threshold.

Fighting back against Amazon

As Amazon has continued to dominate the online retail space, Walmart has fought hard to maintain its position as the nation's largest retailer. In August it acquired Jet.com, another online retailer, to shore up it's ecommerce offerings.

Jet.com was co-founded by Marc Lore, who sold his previous company – Diapers.com – to Amazon in 2010. Jet.com officially launched in 2015, promising consumers lower prices in exchange for longer delivery times.

Lore is now president and CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce, and he says the new free two-day shipping program gives Walmart a powerful weapon.

“Two-day free shipping is the first of many moves we will be making to enhance the customer experience and accelerate growth,” he said.

What's covered

The free two-day shipping will cover items like household products, including diapers, pet products, and food. It will also cover cleaning supplies, grooming products, and top-selling toys and electronics.

Walmart said some consumers who had signed up and paid the $49 for the Shipping Pass service would get refunds.

For consumers, it may be the clearest signal yet that the day is fast approaching when they will never be asked to pay for shipping. At least, that's where Lore thinks things are going.

“In today's world of e-commerce, two-day free shipping is table stakes," he said on a conference call with analysts and reporters. "It no longer makes sense to charge for it.”

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The top 10 most in-demand creative jobs

CareerBuilder says there's hope for art majors

You've heard lately that jobs in STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and math -- are plentiful and pay well.But there's just one problem --...

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Consumer confidence drops in January

Concerns about the months ahead drove the decline

The new year got off to a rocky start insofar as the way consumers see things.The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index dipped a point...

PhotoThe new year got off to a rocky start insofar as the way consumers see things.

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index dipped a point and a-half in January after hitting a 15-year high a month earlier.

Although the Present Situation Index rose from 123.5 to 129.7, the Expectations Index dropped to 99.8 from 106.4 in December.

“The decline in confidence was driven solely by a less optimistic outlook for business conditions, jobs, and especially consumers’ income prospects,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, improved in January. Despite the retreat in confidence, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months.”

The nuts and bolts

Consumers were fairly optimistic about January's conditions. Those who saw business conditions as “good” rose slightly from 28.6% to 29.3%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” went from 17.8% to 16.1%.

Their assessment of the labor market was also more positive than it was last month. The percentage of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose from 26.0% to 27.4%, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” fell from 22.7% to 21.5%.

The short-term outlook, which had increased considerably in December, declined in this month. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped from 24.7% to 23.1%; those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 8.9% to 10.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was somewhat mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell from 21.7% to 19.8%, while those anticipating fewer jobs was virtually unchanged at 14.0%. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell to 18.0% from 21.5%, while the proportion expecting a decline rose from 8.6% to 9.6%.

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 January 19.

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Home price gains continue in November

The S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller National Index is at a new peak

Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months in November.The S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA In...

PhotoHome prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months in November.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, posted a 5.6% for the month after rising 5.5% in October.

The 10-City Composite posted advanced 4.5% on a year-over-year basis increase. The 20-City Composite reported a gain of 5.3%.

Seattle, Portland, and Denver reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last 10 months.

Seattle led the way in November with a 10.4% year-over-year price increase, followed by Portland with 10.1% and Denver with an 8.7% increase.

Eight cities reported greater price increases in the year ending November 2016 versus the year ending October 2016.

“With the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index rising at about 5.5% annual rate over the last two-and-a-half years and having reached a new all-time high recently, one can argue that housing has recovered from the boom-bust cycle that began a dozen years ago,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Month-over-month

The National Index recorded a seasonally adjusted 0.8% month-over-month advance, while both the 10-City and 20-City Composites each reported 0.9% month-over-month increases. All 20 cities saw prices rise.

Blitzer believes the plan by the Trump administration to seek faster economic growth, increased investment in infrastructure, and changes in tax policy could affect housing and home prices.

“Mortgage rates have increased since the election and stronger economic growth could push them higher,” he explains. “Further gains in personal income and employment may increase the demand for housing and add to price pressures when home prices are already rising about twice as fast as inflation.”

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Volkswagen recalls various VW and Audi vehicles

The vehicles have seat belt and airbag issues

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling total of 5,901 vehicles with seat belt and airbag issues. Included are model year 2017 Audi A7, A4, A6, Volkswagen...

PhotoVolkswagen Group of America is recalling total of 5,901 vehicles with seat belt and airbag issues. Included are model year 2017 Audi A7, A4, A6, Volkswagen Golf and Tiguan vehicles and 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf vehicles in which the driver and passenger front airbags or head airbags may not deploy properly.

Additionally, VW is recalling model year 2017 Audi Q7, A4 Sedan, A4 Allroad, and 2018 Audi Q5 vehicles because the seat belt pretensioners may not activate properly.

What to do

Volkswagen and Audi will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected airbags and seat belt pretensioners, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298 or Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834.

 

 

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Hyundai recalls model year 2017 Elantras and Sonatas

The driver's front airbag may not inflate properly

Hyundai Motor Company is recalling 110 model year 2017 Hyundai Elantras manufactured April 15, 2016, to September 13, 2016, and Sonatas manufactured May 27...

PhotoHyundai Motor Company is recalling 110 model year 2017 Hyundai Elantras manufactured April 15, 2016, to September 13, 2016, and Sonatas manufactured May 27, 2016 to September 16, 2016.

The end seal for the driver's front airbag inflator may not have been properly installed, possibly resulting in reduced inflation of the front airbag in the event of a crash.

What to do

Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver's frontal air bag module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin February 13, 2017.

Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai's number for this recall is 156.

 

 

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Model year 2011-2017 Audi Q5s recalled

The side airbag inflator may fracture

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 234,054 model year 2011-2017 Audi Q5s.The sunroof drainage system may allow water to soak into the foam surrou...

PhotoVolkswagen Group of America is recalling 234,054 model year 2011-2017 Audi Q5s.

The sunroof drainage system may allow water to soak into the foam surrounding the side head airbag inflator canister resulting in the corrosion of the canister. This corrosion can weaken the canister and, during deployment of the side head air bag, the inflator may fracture and propel fragments into the passenger compartment.

What to do

Audi will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the inflator and either coat it or replace it, as necessary, after removing the surrounding foam, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in February 2017.

Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 69P1.

 

 

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Tech sector condemns Trump border closings

Tech company leaders offer jobs, housing, and other aid to those affected by Trump's action

American businesses are responding to President Trump's executive order closing the borders to refugees, immigrants from certain countries, and even green...

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Trump promises to do a 'big number' on Dodd-Frank

The consumer protection measure stifles business, hurts consumers, he argues

President Trump is promising to do "a big number on Dodd-Frank," the consumer protection legislation that was passed in 2010 and, among other things, enabl...

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Walgreens-Rite Aid merger put on hold

Regulators have put the proposed deal under a microscope

Complications may have arisen in a drug store mega-merger, which will combine Walgreens Boots Alliance (Walgreens) with Rite Aid.The merger was origina...

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Simple ways to 'date your mate'

What one author says couples can do each week to strengthen their relationship

Carving out time to focus on the health of your relationship isn’t always easy when there are kids to raise and careers to be managed, but author Tina Albr...

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Delta still coping with weekend computer glitch

Airline says it might have to cancel more flights today

Another computer glitch hit Delta Airlines over the weekend, the second in five months. But after numerous cancellations and delays, Delta says it's gettin...

PhotoAnother computer glitch hit Delta Airlines over the weekend, the second in five months. But after numerous cancellations and delays, Delta says it's getting back to normal. Still, travelers could continue to feel the effects.

At 7:00 a.m. today, Delta issued a statement reporting that it is operating most of its flight schedule as it continues to recover from the systems crash that threw its schedule into turmoil Sunday. Delta said it had to cancel about 170 flights Sunday and might have to cancel more than 110 today.

“I want to apologize to all of our customers who have been impacted by this frustrating situation,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in a statement. “This type of disruption is not acceptable to the Delta family, which prides itself on reliability and customer service. I also want to thank our employees who are working tirelessly to accommodate our customers.”

Not happy

Consumers who were inconvenienced were understandably irked. Bill, of Naples, Fla., posted a review to ConsumerAffairs as he sat aboard an aircraft, complaining that the airline was doing nothing to make a bad situation better.

"We have been sitting in a line of 60 grounded planes on the runway at ATL for nearly 2 hours (so far) and in addition to receiving no information, the flight attendants are RESTING," Bill wrote in a post. "The other First Class passengers are a bit confused by this non-customer service behavior of the flight attendant staff. It is bad enough that Delta have an obviously unstable and/insecure computer system; but, the service is becoming terrible."

The airline said its major IT systems went down at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. By midnight, Delta said things were returning to normal.

Check the schedule

Customers flying Delta today should check the airline's website or the Fly Delta app. Delta said it has waived the change fee for customers who were scheduled to fly yesterday and today.

For air travelers, coping with airline computer glitches has become an almost regular occurrence. Just days ago, a computer glitch hit the United Airlines system. The impact was shorter-lived. The system was restored in about an hour.

In August, both Delta and Southwest suffered technical breakdowns within days of one another. In the Southwest outage, the airline was forced to cancel 2,300 flights, stranding passengers all over the country.

Delta's August outage forced it to cancel more than 1,250 flights.

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Even the most expensive metros have affordable homes

But Zillow reports there are always trade-offs

If you are considering a home purchase in California, or other expensive housing areas of the country, you no doubt are trying to avoid the most expensive...

PhotoIf you are considering a home purchase in California, or other expensive housing areas of the country, you no doubt are trying to avoid the most expensive metros.

Of course, that can be difficult if that's where your job happens to be. And it probably causes a lot of workers in Silicon Valley to automatically decide to rent instead of purchase.

But a new report from real estate marketplace Zillow has drilled a little deeper into the data and found that there are sometimes pockets of affordability within the nation's most expensive housing metros. Zillow uses San Jose, Calif., as a prime example.

It notes that people who purchase the average home in San Jose have to be ready to spend around 75% of their income on a mortgage payment, a non-starter for most people. But Zillow has found an affordable alternative just 15 miles away -- the town of Milpitas, Calif. There, Zillow reports a typical homeowner need only spend 35% of monthly income.

There are always trade-offs

So why doesn't everyone opt for the more affordable city, driving up the price of real estate in Milpitas? Zillow says these pockets of affordability tend to get overlooked because there are always trade offs -- a longer or more difficult commute or a lack of amenities of services. But Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell says these trade-offs are often worth it.

"Some cities in the most in-demand housing markets across the country have such a high housing burden that they are simply not feasible for buyers with lower incomes," she said. "If income growth doesn't keep pace with home value growth, especially as mortgage rates rise, inequality will persist."

San Francisco is another extremely expensive housing market. Zillow reports home buyers in the city must spend, on average, nearly 54% of their monthly income on mortgage payments.

Not quite as expensive

Across the bay in Oakland, housing is a little cheaper, with the typical mortgage payment taking up 42% of monthly income.

Gudell says you won't find the same price disparity in less heated housing markets. In those metros, prices in one town are likely to closely match those in neighboring jurisdictions.

The average mortgage payment in Palo Alto, Calif., by the way, takes up the largest portion of monthly income in the U.S. -- 75%. The average mortgage payment in Detroit, on the other hand, requires the smallest -- 5.9%.

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Don't fall for the 'can you hear me' scam

If you answer the phone and hear that question, just hang up

Scammers will often try to bring back old scams that have fallen out of style and make them work. Now, one of the oldest ones, with a new wrinkle, is makin...

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Income and spending head higher in December

Incomes gains in 2016 were down from the prior year

Consumers found themselves with more money in their pockets in December.According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), personal income was up 0.3%...

PhotoConsumers found themselves with more money in their pockets in December.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), personal income was up 0.3%, or $50.2 billion, last month, while disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes -- advanced $43.6 billion, or 0.3%.

The increase came about through gains in wages and salaries, personal current transfer receipts, and rental income of persons.

For all of 2016, personal income was up 3.5% after rising 4.4% the year before. DPI advanced 3.8% the same as in 2015.

Spending and saving

On the spending side, personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- jumped $63.1 billion, or 0.5%. Spending gains came in outlays for both durable goods and services. 

PCE for the full year increased 3.8% -- up 0.3% from 2015.

The PCE price index -- an inflation gauge -- inched ahead 0.2% and by 0.1% when the volatile food and energy categories are stripped out.

Personal saving totaled $768.4 billion last month, with the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of DPI -- at 5.4%.

The complete report may be found on the BEA website.

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A rebound in pending home sales

2016 was the best year for existing-home sales since 2006

Following a decline a month earlier, pending home sales were on the rise in December.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Hom...

PhotoFollowing a decline a month earlier, pending home sales were on the rise in December.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), which is based on contract signings, increased 1.6% last month to 109.0. That puts it 0.3% above last December.

Despite contract activity that was mixed throughout the country, the PHSI ultimately ended on a high note to close out 2016.

"Pending sales rebounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels1 to sign a contract," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing costs. Sales will struggle to build on last year's strong pace if inventory conditions don't improve."

Regional activity

  • The PHSI in the Northeast dipped 1.6% percent to 96.4 in December, and is now 1.2% below a year ago.
  • In the Midwest pending sales edged down 0.8% to 102.7, and down 3.4% from December 2015.
  • Pending home sales in the South were up 2.4% for an index reading of 121.3, and stand 0.5% above last December.
  • The index in the West jumped 5.0% in to 106.1, for a year-over-year gain of 5.0%.

Looking ahead

Existing-home sales are forecast to be around 5.54 million this year -- up 1.7% from 2016, which was the best year of sales since 2006. The national median existing-home price in 2017 is expected to increase around 4%. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.2 percent.

Yun said he expects new-home construction -- which for another year undershot overall demand -- to jump to around 1.26 million units, an increase of 7.9% from 2016.

"Especially if construction-related regulations are relaxed, all eyes will be on the home-building industry this year to see if they can finally start making up lost ground on the severe housing shortages impacting much of the country," he said.

 

 

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IKEA recalls beach chairs

The beach chairs can collapse

IKEA North America Services of Conshohocken, Pa., is recalling about 33,400 MYSINGSÖ beach chairs.The beach chairs can collapse, posing fall and finger...

PhotoIKEA North America Services of Conshohocken, Pa., is recalling about 33,400 MYSINGSÖ beach chairs.

The beach chairs can collapse, posing fall and fingertip amputation.

The firm has received 13 reports worldwide of incidents, including 10 reports of injuries, six of which resulted in fingertip amputations. Three of the incidents, including one fingertip amputation injury, were reported in the U.S.

This recall involves IKEA MYSINGSÖ foldable beach chairs with a wood base and an attached polyester fabric seat. The following article numbers are included in this recall:

Seat Fabric Color & Pattern

Article Number

Light Red/Blue Striped

902.280.08

Red/Blue Striped

302.580.79

Solid White

502.851.66

Solid Red

802.873.95

Solid Green

002.931.40

Grey/White Chevron

303.120.24

Light Blue/White Chevron

503.120.23

Light Red/White Chevron

003.120.25

The article numbers are on labels on the wooden frame and sewn into the fabric.

The beach chairs, manufactured in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were sold at IKEA stores nationwide and online at www.ikea-usa.com from February 2013, through December 2016, for about $25.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled chairs and return them to any IKEA store for a free replacement or full refund. Replacement MYSINGSÖ beach chairs are labeled with article numbers 703.380.17 and 903.380.16 and have plastic stoppers that prevent incorrect re-assembly.

Consumers may contact IKEA toll-free at 888-966-4532 anytime or online at www.ikea-usa.com and click on Press Room at the bottom of the page, then on Product Recalls at the top of the page for more information.

 

 

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Volkswagen recalls various Audi vehicles with cooling issue

The electric coolant pump may overheat

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 342,867 model year 2013-2017 Audi A5, A5 Cabriolet and Q5 vehicles, 2013-2016 Audi Allroad and Audi A4 vehicles an...

PhotoVolkswagen Group of America is recalling 342,867 model year 2013-2017 Audi A5, A5 Cabriolet and Q5 vehicles, 2013-2016 Audi Allroad and Audi A4 vehicles and 2012-2015 Audi A6 vehicles.

The vehicles, equipped with 2.0l Turbo FSI engines, have an electric coolant pump that can be blocked with debris from the cooling system, resulting in the pump overheating increasing the risk of a fire.

What to do

Audi will notify owners, and dealers will update the software so that the power supply to the coolant pump is deactivated if the pump becomes blocked with debris, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin February 20, 2017.

Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 19M1.

 

 

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PayPal and Amazon in discussions over payment partnership

The move would allow Amazon customers to use their PayPal accounts to buy products

Back in 2015, PayPal split away from eBay in an effort to focus on its electronic transactions business. Since then, the company has vigorously pursued agr...

PhotoBack in 2015, PayPal split away from eBay in an effort to focus on its electronic transactions business. Since then, the company has vigorously pursued agreements with other companies and institutions to increase the number of people who use its service.

In February of 2015, the U.S. Treasury said that it would start accepting payments via PayPal at its Pay.gov site, giving consumers more options on how they can pay fines, penalties, or loan repayments. Even more recently, the company teamed up with MasterCard to offer consumers more tap-and-pay options.

Now, it looks like the online payment company is looking to strike a deal with Amazon. Bloomberg reports that the two companies are discussing the possibility of letting consumers pay for Amazon purchases by using their PayPal accounts. While a verified plan has not been announced, officials say the deal is very possible.

“We’re closing in on 200 million users on our platform right now. At that scale, it’s hard for any retailer to think about not accepting PayPal,” said CEO Dan Schulman.

Potential deal

The potential deal could be pretty attractive to Amazon users who are leery of submitting their credit card information to buy products. In a best-case scenario, the move would allow for more sales on Amazon’s end and create more point-of-sale presence for PayPal.

However, while consumers would enjoy more freedom, some may question whether the deal is actually necessary for Amazon. Back in April, the company announced its own PayPal-like program that would allow customers to use their Amazon accounts to pay for products sold by associated merchants.

However, as Schulman pointed out, the 197 million active users on PayPal may be hard to ignore, despite Amazon’s desire to control payments on its own. Thus far, Amazon has declined to comment on the matter.

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Auto leases hit record high in 2016

Leases surged 29% in one year

As the average transaction price on new cars moved higher and higher last year, more new car buyers opted to lease instead of purchase, according to automo...

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U.S. economic growth slows in 2016

A tightening of consumer purse strings is a factor

There was a considerable slowdown in the growth of the nation's economy last year.The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) inc...

PhotoThere was a considerable slowdown in the growth of the nation's economy last year.

The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.6% in 2016 after growing 2.6% the year before.

The deceleration in growth reflected a downturn in private inventory investment, a slowdown in consumer spending (PCE), a downturn in nonresidential fixed investment, and decelerations in residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending.

Those were offset by a slowdown in imports and speedups in federal government spending and exports.

Fourth quarter results

GDP in 2016's fourth quarter grew at a 1.9% annual clip following a third-quarter surge of 3.5%. It's worth keeping in mind that a "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released in late February. That second estimate may affect the 2016 GDP figure as well.

The slowdown in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected a downturn in exports, an acceleration in imports, a deceleration in PCE, and a downturn in federal government spending, all of which were partly offset by an upturn in residential fixed investment, an acceleration in private inventory investment, an upturn in state and local government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.

The PCE price index increased 2.2% in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index was up 1.3%.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

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Consumers to shell out big bucks for the 2017 Super Bowl

But it's not as much as they did a year ago

While no knows whether Atlanta or New England will be this year's Super Bowl champ, it's a pretty good bet that U.S. retailers will come out on top.The...

PhotoWhile no knows whether Atlanta or New England will be this year's Super Bowl champ, it's a pretty good bet that U.S. retailers will come out on top.

The National Retail Federation’s annual Super Bowl Spending Survey projects consumers in this country will spend an average of $75 for a total of $14.1 billion on decorations, party food, accessories, and other Super Bowl “necessities.” That's down about $1.4 billion from last year.

“With the holidays past us, consumers are looking forward to spending time with friends and family for some good old-fashioned fun to celebrate the big game” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted the survey, says of the 76% who plan to watch the game, 80% say they will purchase food and beverages, 11% will buy team apparel or accessories, and 8% will splurge on new TVs to watch the game at home.

Some 45 million people told the pollsters that they'll be hosting a Super Bowl party, and 27% plan to attend a party. Bars and restaurants can expect a good turnout with 12.4 million people planning to head out to watch at their favorite local spot.

Why we watch

Over 43% of viewers say the most important part is the game itself, 24% cite the commercials,15% just want to hang out with friends, and 12% think the half-time show is their top highlight.

The survey also found that 78% of viewers watch the commercials for entertainment and 18% say they make them more aware of the advertiser’s brand. However, just 10% say the commercials influence them to purchase products.

Sixteen percent believe advertisers should save their money and pass the savings along to the consumers, while 10% say the commercials make the game last too long.

The survey, conducted January 4 -11, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1%. It asked 7,591 consumers about their Super Bowl plans.

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Porsche recalls various vehicles with side airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator initiator may fail to ignite during a crash

Porsche Cars North America is recalling 85 model year 2017 718 Boxster, 718 Boxster S, 718 Cayman, 718 Cayman S, 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera S...

PhotoPorsche Cars North America is recalling 85 model year 2017 718 Boxster, 718 Boxster S, 718 Cayman, 718 Cayman S, 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera S, 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, 911 Carrera 4S, 911 Turbo, 911 Turbo S, 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, and 911 Turbo Cabriolet vehicles.

The seat mounted side airbag inflator initiator may fail to ignite during a crash.

If the airbag inflator initiator fails to ignite, the side airbag will not deploy, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

What to do

Porsche will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected airbag modules, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Porsche customer service at 1-800-767-7243. Porsche's number for this recall is AG10.

 

 

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Country Home Products recalls field & brush mowers

The fuel tank may expand and leak gasoline liquid or vapors

Country Home Products of Vergennes, Vt., is recalling about 830 field & brush mowers.The fuel tank valve can malfunction and cause the fuel tank to exp...

PhotoCountry Home Products of Vergennes, Vt., is recalling about 830 field & brush mowers.

The fuel tank valve can malfunction and cause the fuel tank to expand and gasoline liquid or vapors to be unexpectedly released, posing fire and burn hazards.

The firm has received 10 reports of fires, including one report of a burn injury to a consumer’s hand.

This recall involves the Pro-XL-44 model of the DR brand tow-behind field and brush mower manufactured by Country Home Products. The mowers are towed behind a riding mower or ATV to clear acres of thick grass and brush.

The recalled mowers have an electric start 20 HP Briggs & Stratton engine and a serial number between TB21001001 – TB21002555. The recalled mowers are black and orange and have two blades and four wheels and are 44 inches wide.

There is a large label below the machine’s fuel tank that with “DR Field and Brush Mower” printed on it and a round DR logo is in the right hand corner. The serial number is printed on the rear right corner of the frame near the engine control panel.

The mowers, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Country Home Products catalog, website and authorized independent DR dealers nationwide from October 2015, through July 2016, for about $3,600.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled mowers and contact Country Home Products to schedule a free repair from a dealer. Country Home Products is sending a repair kit to all registered owners.

Consumers may contact Country Home Products toll-free at 877-271-5677 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at tbmrecall@chp.com or online at www.DRPower.com and click on “Product Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

 

 

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10 lessons for communities trying to control payday lending

Researchers studied how communities have been successful and offer some advice

Some states have tough usury laws that keep payday lenders from setting up shop. States that cap interest rates at 30% have found that payday lenders, who...

PhotoSome states have tough usury laws that keep payday lenders from setting up shop. States that cap interest rates at 30% have found that payday lenders, who may charge 400% or more, will stay away.

But in the absence of state regulations, local communities often find it is up to them to control these storefront operations that researchers at the University of Utah and University of New Mexico contend "often strip wealth from society’s most economically vulnerable individuals and communities.

In fact, the researchers say these storefronts outnumber all McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, and Walgreens stores combined. After studying how Silicon Valley in Northern California, Greater Metropolitan Dallas in Texas, and Greater Salt Lake City in Utah handled the issue, the researchers have issued a report with 10 lessons for other communities who want to reduce or control payday loan activity within their jurisdictions.

10 Lessons

Lesson 1: Form a strong, broad-based community organization and draw up operating rules.

Lesson 2: Tell a story. Don't get caught up in abstractions like “500 percent interest” or “debt traps,” but let actual borrowers tell how payday loans affected their lives and present that message to the community.

Lesson 3: Learn to operate on a shoestring budget. It can be done.

Lesson 4: When enlisting allies, don't overlook faith leaders. They are usually motivated and can be very effective.

Lesson 5: Develop a strong media strategy, both for local media and using social media and other web-based platforms.

Lesson 6: Enlist someone in elected office to run interference for you in political and government affairs.

Lesson 7: When local government bodies are considering proposals dealing with payday lending, meet with them well in advance of any vote and present your case. Arguments should be tailored to what matters most to the individual policymakers.

• Lesson 8: Remember that the industry will oppose your efforts and is well-funded. Be prepared for the pushback.

• Lesson 9: If you are successful in passing an ordinance, help other municipalities do the same.

• Lesson 10: Try to translate your success on the local level to similar efforts on the state and national level.

Some communities have learned these lessons well. The Lubbock, Texas City Council is reportedly close to passing a payday lending ordinance.

There is very little federal regulation of payday lenders, though the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has moved in that direction in recent months, proposing new rules amid strong political and industry opposition.

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Women are eating healthier and dieting less, study finds

Over half of U.S. women are ditching dieting in favor of making small, permanent changes

Women are veering away from fad diets and instead choosing to make more permanent lifestyle changes to improve their health, a new study finds. The Foo...

PhotoWomen are veering away from fad diets and instead choosing to make more permanent lifestyle changes to improve their health, a new study finds.

The Food Factor: Evolution of Eats survey by Better Homes and Gardens revealed that two-thirds of American women said they and their households were eating healthier in the last two years -- but not because of a specific diet or tactic.

Of the women who said they were eating healthier, over half attributed the changes to significant modifications in what and how they eat.

"While women continue to be health-conscious, their approach to their diet has changed," says Nancy Hopkins, Senior Food Editor of Better Homes & Gardens. "These women no longer want short term solutions from diet fads and tricks; they want to make meaningful changes that will last them over the course of their lives."

Focus on healthy eating

The study looked at women’s motivations, attitudes, and behaviors relating to food, cooking, and eating. Responses from more than 2,000 participants revealed that 63% of women are now choosing to focus on eating healthier foods in general. This is an increase from 2014 when only 50% of women said the same.

Women are also eating less meat, perhaps as a result of being filled with more fruits and vegetables. With 71% of women eating more vegetables and 66% eating more fruits, women are eating 33% less meat than before. About 1 and 3 women have the occasional vegetarian meal during their day.

Key findings from the survey revealed that there have been other big changes to dieting in recent years. Here's what's new in the last two years: 

  • Only 27% of women say they or any household member has followed a special diet in the last year.
  • 64% are paying more attention to nutrition than they did two years ago.
  • 53% say they are working to make small, permanent changes in their eating.
  • Half of women are now adding more salad to their diets, and 3 in 5 even grow their own fruits and vegetables.
  • 85% say they consider the healthfulness of a recipe before selecting it, and 50% have changed recipes so that they're healthier.
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Walmart experiments with selling cars

It has been displaying cars in a Florida store for about a year to test the concept

Walmart already sells just about anything you can think of, but now it's adding cars to the list. According to a report in Automotive News, Walmart will be...

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Trump names new acting chair of the FTC

Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican, has been on the commission since 2012

As expected, President Trump has designated Maureen K. Ohlhausen as Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.“I am dee...

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New home sales surge in December

The latest LEI suggests continued economic growth

New home sales finished a strong year with a strong month.The Commerce Department reports new single-family houses s...

Photo
Photo (c) Andy Dean - Fotolia

New home sales finished a strong year with a strong month.

The Commerce Department reports new single-family houses sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 536,000 in December -- up 10.4% from November.

For all of last year, an estimated 563,000 new homes were sold -- 12.2% more than in 2015.

December prices and inventory

The median sales price -- the point at which half of the houses sold for more and half sold for less -- was $322,500, up $13,000 from November and a year-over-year gain of $23,500.

The average sales price in December was $384,000, an increase of $18,00 from the month before and up $25,900 from the same month a year earlier.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 259,000 -- a supply of 5.8 months at the current sales rate.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

PhotoLeading Indicators

The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) reading contains signs of optimism -- rising for a third straight month.

Last month's 0.5% increase in the LEI follows gains of 0.1% in November and a 0.2% rise in October.

The December advance suggests, according to Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Atman Ozymandias, “the economy will continue growing at a moderate pace -- perhaps even accelerating slightly in the early months of this year.”

December’s large gain, he pointed out, “was mainly driven by improving sentiment about the outlook and suggests the business cycle still showed strong momentum in the final months of 2016.”

The LEI is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the LEI include:

  1. Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  2. Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  3. Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and materials
  4. ISM Index of New Orders
  5. Manufacturers' new orders, non defense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  6. Building permits, new private housing units
  7. Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  8. Leading Credit Index
  9. Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  10. Average consumer expectations for business conditions
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Economy: Home prices, jobless claims on the rise

House prices posted a year-over-year gain of more than 6%

Home prices across the U.S. edged up 0.5% from October to November rose in November, and posted a year-over-year advance...

Photo
Photo (c) pogonici - Fotolia

Home prices across the U.S. edged up 0.5% from October to November rose in November, and posted a year-over-year advance of 6.1%.

At the same time, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) revised its monthly House Price Index (HPI) downward to show a gain of 0.3% instead of the 0.4% increase initially reported.

Regional breakdown

For the nine census divisions, monthly price changes ranged from -0.2% in the South Atlantic division to +1.5% in the Pacific division.

The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +4.7% in the Middle Atlantic division to +7.7% in the Pacific division.

The monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The complete report may be found on the FHFA website.

PhotoJobless claims

An increase last week in the number of people filing first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims rose by 22,000 in the week ending January 21 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 3,000 to 237,000.

The four-week moving average was down by 2,000 from the previous week to 245,500 -- the lowest level since November 3, 1973, when it was 244,000.

The four-week moving average, due to its relative lack of volatility, is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

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Atlas Meat recalls pork products

The products may contain MSG, which is not declared on the label

Atlas Meat Company of Fort Collins, Colo., is recalling approximately 2,579 pounds of pork sausage products.The products may contain monosodium glutama...

PhotoAtlas Meat Company of Fort Collins, Colo., is recalling approximately 2,579 pounds of pork sausage products.

The products may contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is not declared on the label.

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

The following items, from October 12, 2016, through January 23, 2017, are being recalled:

  • 0.80 to 1.5-lb. vacuum-sealed or butcher paper wrapped packages containing “Atlas Meat Pork Breakfast Ssg.”
  • 0.80 to 1.5-lb. vacuum-sealed or butcher paper wrapped packages containing “Atlas Meat Pork Italian ssg.”

The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 40306” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were sold directly to consumers at the firm’s Fort Collins, Colo., location and shipped to retail locations in Colorado and Wyoming.

What to do

Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Juan Meza at (970) 224-9210.

 

 

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Pulse Performance recalls children’s electric scooters

The knuckle that joins the wheel to the axle can break

Pulse Performance Products of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., is recalling about 8,900 children’s electric scooters.The knuckle that joins the wheel to the a...

PhotoPulse Performance Products of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., is recalling about 8,900 children’s electric scooters.

The knuckle that joins the wheel to the axle can break, posing a fall hazard to the rider.

No incidents or injuries have been reported.

This recall involves Pulse Safe Start Transform electric scooters for children with manufacturing date codes between September 10, 2016 and October 11, 2016.

The date code is printed on a label located under the platform in format XX(month)/XX(day)/2016 – 066QY. The scooters were sold in blue and have two wheels in front and one in the rear.

The scooters, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide from October 2016, through November 2016, for about $100.

What to do

Consumers should immediately take the recalled scooters away from children and contact Pulse Performance Products for a full refund.

Consumers may contact Pulse Performance Products toll-free at 844-287-8711 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.pulsescooters.com and click on “CPSC Safety Recalls” for more information.

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Mazda recalls 696 vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Mazda North America Operations is recalling a total of 696 vehicles with a passenger front airbag inflator issue.The recall includes model year 2009 B-...

PhotoMazda North America Operations is recalling a total of 696 vehicles with a passenger front airbag inflator issue.

The recall includes model year 2009 B-Series trucks sold, or ever registered, in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone B,” Mazda is recalling certain 2007-2008 B-Series trucks sold, or ever registered, in the states of 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.

These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, 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

Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger airbag inflator, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin March 7, 2017.

Owners may contact Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500. Mazda's number for this recall is 0817A.

 

 

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New Mexico files suit against Takata and 15 carmakers over defective airbag systems

State officials say the companies misrepresented how dangerous the products were

Consumers may have felt some vindication after Takata settled with the feds earlier this month for $1 billion, but a new suit brought by the state of New M...

PhotoConsumers may have felt some vindication after Takata settled with the feds earlier this month for $1 billion, but a new suit brought by the state of New Mexico shows the company’s troubles are far from over.

The state has filed a lawsuit against 15 car companies and Takata for allegedly covering up the fatal defect in its airbag inflators that led to the deaths of 11 people in the U.S.

“In New Mexico, no child should ever be put in danger so international corporations can reap enormous profits,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said. “New Mexico families’ health and safety have been put at dangerous risk by Takata and the automakers, and we will hold them accountable. Corporations who harm New Mexicans will pay for their actions no matter their size or location around the world.”

The suit claims that the company – along with Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Mazda, Volkswagen, Audi, Nissan, FCA, Ferrari, General Motors, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz – knew about the defect but misrepresented how dangerous it was.

“Under New Mexico law, Takata had, and has, a duty to ensure that its airbag systems work safely and as intended, and must not make false, deceptive, or misleading statements or omissions regarding them to any person, including the public and its commercial partners,” the suit states.

“Similarly, under New Mexico law, [the companies] had, and have, a duty to ensure their vehicles are safe and must not make false, deceptive, or misleading statements or omissions regarding their vehicles to any person.”

Misrepresenting a dangerous defect

However, state officials charge that Takata and the manufacturers failed in their duty, a fact that has led to the largest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall in history. The New Mexico Attorney General’s office further claims that not disclosing the dangers of the airbag systems and vehicles violates the state’s unfair trade practices act.

The lawsuit claims that both Takata and the carmakers had ample time to publicize the airbag system issues, alleging that the problem was known to the former as early as the late 1990s.

“Yet Takata concealed its knowledge, repeatedly denying and obfuscating the existence of the defect from regulators and the public across the country, including in New Mexico,” the suit states. “Indeed, as alleged more fully herein, Takata has made a number of public statements denying or minimizing the defect and assuring the public of its commitment to driver safety, in full knowledge of the deadly consequences of its explosive airbag systems.”

Thousands in civil penalties per day

The suit is slightly more lenient on carmakers, admitting that Takata falsely represented its products when they were being bought. However, it says that some manufacturers learned about the defect well before the recall began and chose to do nothing.

The state is seeking civil penalties of $5,000 for each defective airbag that made its way into the state and $5,000 for each day the defendants concealed or misrepresented the defect from regulators and the public.

As we’ve reported previously, consumers should find out if their car is included in the recall by going to SaferCar.gov. Enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the provided space to see if your vehicle has been part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.

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Dow Jones Average tops 20,000 for first time

It came close in December before the rally fizzled

What's in a number? On Wall Street, traders will tell you the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping the 20,000 mark is not that big of a deal. Mostly symbol...

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Florida and feds tag team debt settlement companies

The settlement puts three companies out of business

The state of Florida and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have reached a settlement with the operator of several debt settlement companies after filing a...

PhotoThe state of Florida and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have reached a settlement with the operator of several debt settlement companies after filing a lawsuit last year.

The state and federal governments teamed up to bring charges against Chastity Valdes and the companies she controlled, Consumer Assistance LLC, Consumer Assistance Project Corp. and Palermo Global LLC.

The charges specifically accused the companies of targeting consumers with student loan debt with illegal debt relief offers.

The suit claimed the companies took up-front fees in return for their promised debt relief and credit repair services. They allegedly promised victims they could reduce the amount of their student loans and repair their credit.

Tough loan to get out of

Student loans, of course, are among the most binding of debts and can't even be discharged in bankruptcy.

Among the laws the defendants were accused of violating are the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

The settlement essentially puts the companies out of business. Under the terms of the agreement, they cannot sell debt relief and credit repair services, and can't even make any material claims about any products or services.

They are also prohibited from misrepresenting endorsements, making money from consumers’ personal information, and being careless in the disposal of personal information.

They would also be required to cough up $2.3 million in damages, if they had it. Since they don't, they have to turn over all of their assets to Florida and federal authorities. If it turns out they weren't being truthful about the amount of the assets, the full $2.3 million judgment will be imposed.

Avoiding debt settlement pitches

Debt settlement schemes most commonly target people with large amounts of credit card debt, usually making it sound like it's easy to get credit card companies to agree to accept a fraction of what is owed.

That's hardly the way it works. When a consumer stops making payments, as advised by a debt settlement company, he or she is besieged by debt collectors. In the process, the consumer's credit score craters.

The FTC doesn't say you should never try to settle your debt, but it does say you need to be very, very careful. And you should always avoid doing business with a debt settlement firm that charges an upfront fee, which is illegal.

Remember, you can talk to your credit card company yourself, and will probably have better luck than a debt settlement company will.

Learn more about what the FTC advises on debt settlement here.

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Mortgage applications post third straight weekly gain

Contact interest were mostly higher

Mortgage applications are up for the third time in as many weeks, rising 4.0%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.The survey for the week en...

PhotoMortgage applications are up for the third time in as many weeks, rising 4.0%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The survey for the week ending January 20 included an adjustment for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

The Refinance Index inched up 0.2%, although the refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 50.0% of total applications from 53.0% the previous week -- the lowest level since July 2015.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity was unchanged at 5.7%, the FHA share of total applications rose to 13.6% from 13.1% a week earlier, the VA share went to 12.2% from 12.1% the prior week, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.9%.

Contract interest rates

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($424,000 or less) rose eight basis points -- to 4.35% from 4.27% -- with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.39 (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 $424,000) went from 4.22% to 4.28%, with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.36 (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 increased shot up nine basis points to 4.19%, with points increasing to 0.35 from 0.28 (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 up to 3.57% from 3.51%, with points decreasing to 0.28 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs dipped three basis points to 3.41%, 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% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications.

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Mitsubishi recalls i-MiEV vehicles

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) is recalling 1,964 model year 2012 and 2014 i-MiEV vehicles.The vehicles are equipped with airbag inflators asse...

PhotoMitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) is recalling 1,964 model year 2012 and 2014 i-MiEV vehicles.

The vehicles are equipped with airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front air bags, 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

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

Owners may contact MMNA customer service at 1-888-648-7820. MMNA's number for this recall is SR-17-001.

 

 

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Ferrari recalls vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Ferrari North America is recalling 825 model year 2012 California, 458 Italia, 458 Spider, and FF vehicles sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California...

PhotoFerrari North America is recalling 825 model year 2012 California, 458 Italia, 458 Spider, and FF vehicles sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The vehicles are equipped with airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, 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

Ferrari will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger air bag assembly, free of charge. Ferrari plans to send an interim owner letter to owners beginning March 13, 2017, and a second letter will be sent when parts are available.

Owners may contact Ferrari customer service at 1-866-551-2828. Ferrari's number for this recall is 61.

 

 

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Subaru recalls more than 62,000 vehicles passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death'

Subaru of America is recalling 62,764 model year 2005-2006 Baja, 2006-2008 Imprezas (including WRX and STI models), Tribecas, and 2006 Saab 9-2X vehicles,...

PhotoSubaru of America is recalling 62,764 model year 2005-2006 Baja, 2006-2008 Imprezas (including WRX and STI models), Tribecas, and 2006 Saab 9-2X vehicles, originally sold, or ever registered, in the states of 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.

These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, 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 their owners. General Motors will notify Saab owners. Dealers will replace the front passenger air bag inflator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Subaru owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-782-2783. Saab owners may contact the Saab customer assistance center at 1-800-955-9007. Subaru's number for this recall is TKC-17.

 

 

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Toyota recalls model year 2016 and 2017 Tundras

A portion of the resin rear step bumper may break away

Toyota Motor North America is recalling approximately 73,000 model year 2016 and 2017 Toyota Tundras.The vehicles are equipped with resin rear step bum...

PhotoToyota Motor North America is recalling approximately 73,000 model year 2016 and 2017 Toyota Tundras.

The vehicles are equipped with resin rear step bumpers and resin reinforcement brackets at each corner. In the event of an impact to the corner of the bumper, the resin bracket may become damaged but not be noticed.

If a person steps on the corner of the bumper that is damaged, a portion of it may break away, increasing the risk of injury.

What to do

Toyota dealers will replace the resin reinforcement brackets with new ones made of steel at no cost to customers. In addition, the rear bumper tread covers will be replaced as part of the remedy. Owners of the recalled vehicles will receive a notification by first class mail starting in the middle of February.

Owners may call Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus customer service at 1-800-255-3987. 

 

 

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New FCC chairman is no friend of net neutrality

Consumer privacy protection rules also likely on the chopping block

As expected, President Trump has named Ajit Pai chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spreading joy throughout the advertising and telecommuni...

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Court blocks Aetna-Humana merger

Still pending is a decision on Aetna's takeover of Cigna

A U.S. District Court Judge has blocked Aetna's acquisition of rival insurer Humana Inc. Judge John D. Bates of the D.C. Circuit held that the $34 billion...

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Having trouble keeping your New Year's resolutions?

Researchers say getting more sleep can help consumers achieve their goals

We’re not quite through a month of the new year, but many consumers will have inevitably lost track of their New Year’s resolutions. While we may promise t...

PhotoWe’re not quite through a month of the new year, but many consumers will have inevitably lost track of their New Year’s resolutions. While we may promise to eat healthier, exercise more, quit bad habits, and meet job goals at the beginning of the year, it takes resolve and a strong will to stick to it.

However, researchers at the University of Michigan say that there is one thing that consumers can do to make keeping resolutions easier. Their study found that getting the right amount of sleep can help people achieve their goals by improving overall performance.

Achieving goals

Dr. Cathy Goldstein explains that not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can make consumers feel like their poor performance is normal. However, getting the recommended amount of sleep can help you accomplish a variety of goals. They include:

Eating healthier. People are much more likely to eat junk food when they’re not getting enough sleep. The researchers found that those who stay up late into the night tend to snack more and weigh more, on average. Additionally, those who aren’t sleeping well tend to make poorer meal choices during the day, which can lead to weight gain.

Exercising more. Anyone could tell you that going to the gym takes willpower, but it takes even more when you feel exhausted. Lack of sleep makes decreases our speed, strength, and endurance, and the physical payoffs we gain from going to the gym are reduced if our bodies aren’t ready for the workout.

Getting a promotion. If you’re looking to impress your boss, it’s important that you get enough sleep. The researchers say that those who do tend to be more alert, motivated, and cheerful – attributes that are compromised when we’re tired. Further, the researchers say that being tired can lead to bad work habits, like taking extended breaks and wasting company time on social media or entertainment sites.

Improving your relationship: Irritability is a trademark attribute of not getting enough sleep, and it can be a huge negative if you’re working through issues with your spouse or significant other. Unfortunately, your mood isn’t likely to improve if you’re not getting enough sleep, which will further harm the healing process.

Quitting smoking: Previous studies have connected lack of sleep with increased nicotine dependence. While the reason behind the association is unknown, it’s a great hindrance to those looking to quit a smoking habit. Lack of sleep can also lead to poorer decision making, so quitting the habit for health reasons may be harder to justify.

Encouraging healthy sleep

To help consumers keep their resolutions and reach optimal health, the researchers have provided some tips for getting optimal amounts of sleep. First, they say that adults should try to get seven to eight hours every night, even on the weekends. Going to bed at the same time every night can also help put your body on a good schedule.

Second, consumers are encouraged to stop using electronic devices right before going to bed. This includes the use of phones, tablets, and computers. “You’re most sensitive to bright light in the middle of the night. Even low levels can have a negative effect,” said one researcher.

Finally, consumers should strive to keep their bedrooms as dark as possible. Installing blackout blinds or curtains can help block outside light sources, and finding replacements for electronic clocks or other devices that light up can promote a better sleeping environment.

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2017 tax filing season is now open

You have a couple of extra days this year to pony up

It's NOT that most wonderful time of the year.Tax season is officially under way, with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) now accepting and processing...

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January offers some attractive new car deals

Kelley Blue Book picks its top lease and purchase deals of the month

If you waited for the start of the new year to shop for a new car, you're in luck. It appears there are some pretty good deals on both purchase and lease o...

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What's the best off-road pick-up truck?

Automotive sites pick the Ford F-150 Raptor

Pick-up trucks are used for different things -- some for work, some for leisure. How you plan to use it probably dictates the kind of truck you buy.So...

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Mercedes-Benz recalls various vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling a total of 103,406 vehicles with a passenger front airbag inflator issue.The recall includes model year 2012 C300 4Matic...

PhotoMercedes-Benz USA is recalling a total of 103,406 vehicles with a passenger front airbag inflator issue.

The recall includes model year 2012 C300 4Matic, C250, C250 Coupe, C350, C350 Coupe 4Matic, C350 Coupe, C63 AMG, C63 AMG Coupe, E350 Coupe 4Matic, E350 Cabrio, E350 Coupe, E550 Cabrio, E550 Coupe, GLK350 4Matic, GLK350, SLS AMG Cabrio, and SLS AMG Coupe vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone A," MBUSA is recalling model year 2009 C300 4Matic, C300, C350 and C63 AMG vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Further, unless included in "Zone A" or "Zone B," MBUSA is recalling model year 2008 C300 4Matic, C300, and C350 vehicles originally sold, or ever 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.

The vehicles are equipped with airbag 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

MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger airbag modules, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be sent an interim notification starting in February 2017. A second notice will be mailed when remedy parts are available.

Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-877-496-3691.

 

 

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Subaru recalls various vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Subaru of America is recalling 69,529 model year 2005-2006 Bajas, 2009 Foresters, Legacys and Outbacks and 2006-2009 Imprezas (including WRX and STI models...

PhotoSubaru of America is recalling 69,529 model year 2005-2006 Bajas, 2009 Foresters, Legacys and Outbacks and 2006-2009 Imprezas (including WRX and STI models) and Tribecas originally sold, or ever registered, in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front air bags, 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 airbag inflator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-782-2783. Subaru's number for this recall is TKB-17.

 

 

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Mazda recalls various vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Mazda North America Operations is recalling 85,098 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.Included are model year 2012 CX-7, CX-9 and Mazda6 vehicles s...

PhotoMazda North America Operations is recalling 85,098 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.

Included are model year 2012 CX-7, CX-9 and Mazda6 vehicles sold, or ever registered, in the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone A," Mazda is recalling 2009 CX-7, CX-9 and Mazda6 vehicles sold, or ever registered in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Further, unless included in "Zone A" or "Zone B," Mazda is recalling certain 2007-2008 CX-7 and CX-9 sold, or ever registered in the states of 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.

These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, 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

Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger side airbag inflator, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin March 7, 2017.

Owners may contact Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500. Mazda's number for this recall is 0717A.

 

 

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More than 300k vehicles with airbag inflator issue recalled by Honda

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

American Honda Motor Co. is recalling a total of 308,884 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.Included are model year 2005-2006 Acura MDX and Honda C...

PhotoAmerican Honda Motor Co. is recalling a total of 308,884 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.

Included are model year 2005-2006 Acura MDX and Honda CR-V vehicles, 2005-2011 Honda Elements, 2005-2012 Acura RLs, 2006-2012 Honda Ridgelines, 2007-2008 Honda Fits and 2005-2008 Honda Pilots originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, if not included in "Zone A," Honda is recalling 2005-2006 Acura MDX and Honda CR-V vehicles, 2005-2009 Acura RLs and Honda Elements, 2007-2008 Honda Fit, 2005-2008 Honda Pilots and 2006-2009 Honda Ridgelines originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Further, if not included in "Zone A" or "Zone B," Honda is recalling 2005-2006 Acura MDX and Honda CR-V vehicles, 2005-2008 Acura RLs, Honda Elements and Honda Pilots, 2007-2008 Honda Fits and 2006-2008 Honda Ridgelines originally sold, or ever 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.

These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules 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

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

Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are KD9 and KE0.

 

 

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Trump cuts mortgage aid to home buyers

Surprise action raises questions about other housing assistance programs

Consumer advocates and the real estate industry are struggling to understand President Trump's first official action. Trump, who has vowed to fight for wor...

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Survey shows where America is moving

The U-Haul annual report of one-way truck rentals declares Madison, Wisconsin to be the top destination

Forget the sunbelt. U-Haul says its annual survey of American migration trends finds consumers are more likely to be moving to Madison, Wis., than any othe...

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United Airlines flights grounded by computer glitch

Stranded travelers took to the internet to complain during the one-hour delay

Airline companies have come to rely on computer systems in order to keep things running smoothly, but a lot can go wrong when those systems break down. Con...

PhotoAirline companies have come to rely on computer systems in order to keep things running smoothly, but a lot can go wrong when those systems break down. Consumers may remember the technical glitches that affected Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines last year, which led to thousands of canceled flights and millions in lost revenue.

Now, another airline company has been plagued by its own technical problem. According to a Reuters report, United Airlines was forced to ground all of its domestic flights for around an hour last night due to an “IT issue.” The company announced the ground halt in a tweet at 9:06 EST and apologized for the inconvenience.

However, stranded fliers lashed out at the company both online and in person. “This has been the worst customer service experience and worst flying service ever experienced in 30+ years,” one traveler said. The airliner offered to waive change fees and provide travel waivers to affected passengers, but the damage had been done. After about an hour, the company announced that it had lifted the ground stop and resumed flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that no international flights were stopped by the computer glitch but was unsure of how many domestic flights had been affected.

What’s also uncertain is how much the ground halt will end up costing United. The reparations paid to travelers, the loss of business, and the potential drop in unit prices could certainly add up. Experts estimated that Southwest lost between $54 million and $82 million as a result of its computer glitch in July, so the losses might not necessarily be chump change.

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Feds sue TCF National Bank for overdraft fee policy

CFPB claims the bank tricked consumers into signing up for expensive service

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has filed a lawsuit against TCF National Bank, accusing it of tricking consumers into agreeing to pay for c...

PhotoThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has filed a lawsuit against TCF National Bank, accusing it of tricking consumers into agreeing to pay for costly overdraft services.

Under recent changes in the law, a bank cannot charge overdraft fees on debit purchases or ATM withdrawals unless the consumer specifically agrees.

Before that change to the law, consumers might get hit with four or five overdraft fees after a shopping spree because they didn't have enough money in their account to cover the purchase.

Instead of declining the purchase at the point of sale, so the consumer would know he or she was overdrawn, the banks would cover the purchase but assess an overdraft fee for each transaction.

Short term loan

Banks justified this as a service they were providing their customers -- a short-term loan, if you will. But many consumers objected, saying they would rather their purchase be declined and not have to pay a fee.

So the law allows banks to provide this "service" to their customers, but requires customers to "opt-in," specifically telling the bank they want it.

In the case of TCF National Bank, the CFPB charged the bank designed its application process to make it appear that customers had to agree to accept "overdraft protection" when they opened accounts.

“Today we are suing TCF for tricking consumers into costly overdraft services in order to preserve its bottom line,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray."TCF bulldozed its way through protections against automatic overdraft enrollment and then celebrated its unusual sign-up success. With today’s action, we are standing up for consumers’ right to understand and choose what services they receive.”

The suit asks for compensation for affected consumers, an injunction to prevent future violations, and a civil money penalty.

Consumers' rights

Meanwhile, CFPB has published an extensive document on its website, explaining consumers' rights when it comes to bank overdraft fees.

The normal course of action when consumers make a debit card purchase for which there is not enough money in their account is for the sale to be declined. That alerts the consumer to the account deficiency and avoids expensive fees.

Most banks are perfectly willing to cover these purchases but charge hefty fees for this service. The law makes clear that consumers must make an informed choice to have this service and a bank cannot unilaterally enroll them in it.

It should be noted the law on overdraft fees applies only to debit cards. It does not include checks. If you write a check and have insufficient funds to cover it, your bank will assess a fee and make up the deficiency out of your next deposit.

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Ford recalls various vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Ford Motor Company is recalling a total of 654,695 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.Included are model year 2012 Ford Fusions and Mustangs and Li...

PhotoFord Motor Company is recalling a total of 654,695 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.

Included are model year 2012 Ford Fusions and Mustangs and Lincoln Zephyrs and MKZs originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone A,” Ford is recalling certain 2009 Ford Rangers, Edges, Fusions and Mustangs, Lincoln MKXs, MKZs and Zephyrs and Mercury Milans originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone A" or "Zone B," Ford is recalling certain 2007-2008 Ford Rangers, Edges and Lincoln MKXs, 2006-2008 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans, Lincoln Zephyrs and MKZs, 2005-2008 Ford Mustangs and 2005-2006 Ford GTs originally sold, or ever 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.

These vehicles are equipped with airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, 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

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front airbag inflator, free of charge. Interim letters informing owners of the recall and that parts are not yet available are expected to begin February 27, 2017. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available.

Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 17S01.

 

 

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Daimler Vans USA recalls vehicles with passenger front airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Daimler Vans USA (DVUSA) is recalling a total of 11,279 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.Included are model year 2012 Freightliner 2500 and 3500...

PhotoDaimler Vans USA (DVUSA) is recalling a total of 11,279 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.

Included are model year 2012 Freightliner 2500 and 3500 Sprinter and Mercedes-Benz 2500 and 3500 Sprinter vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, DVUSA is recalling certain 2009 Dodge 2500 and 3500 Sprinter and Freightliner 2500 and 3500 Sprinter vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

These vehicles are equipped with airbag 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

DVUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger airbag module, free of charge. Interim letters informing owners about the recall and telling them that parts are not yet available are expected to be mailed in February 2017. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available.

Owners may contact DVUSA customer service at 1-877-762-8267.

 

 

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Mountain View Packaging recalls chicken product

The product contains wheat, egg and milk, allergens not declared on the label

Mountain View Packaging of Boise, Idaho, is recalling approximately 1,080 pounds of chicken product.The product contains wheat, egg and milk, allergens...

PhotoMountain View Packaging of Boise, Idaho, is recalling approximately 1,080 pounds of chicken product.

The product contains wheat, egg and milk, allergens not declared on the label.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the product.

The following item, packaged on December 23 and 30, 2016, is being recalled:

  • 18-oz packages of “@ease Sweet Chili Chicken Meal Starter, Fully cooked, boneless, battered white meat chicken in a sweet chili sauce” with a “Best By” date of 5/17/2018 and UPC code of 36800-38348.

The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. P-39904” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was sold to a distributor in Utah for further distribution in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

What to do

Customers who purchased the product should not consume it, but thrown it away or return it to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Gary Shaw at (208) 344-1183 x106. 

 

 

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Model year 2009, 2012 Jaguar Xfs recalled

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Jaguar Land Rover North America is recalling a total of 8,191 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.Included are model year year 2012 Jaguar XFs origi...

PhotoJaguar Land Rover North America is recalling a total of 8,191 vehicles with an airbag inflator issue.

Included are model year year 2012 Jaguar XFs originally sold, or ever registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone A," Jaguar is recalling model year 2009 Jaguar XF vehicles, originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B." Vehicles not originally sold or ever registered in either Zones A or B are not subject to this safety recall.

The vehicles are equipped with airbag 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

Jaguar will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front airbag assembly, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be sent an interim notification around March 3, 2017. A second notice will be mailed when remedy parts are available.

Owners may contact Jaguar customer service at 1-800-452-4827. Jaguar's number for this recall is J070.

 

 

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Nissan recalls Versas and Infinitis

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Nissan North America is recalling a total of 152,554 vehicles with airbag inflator issues.Included are model year 2012 Nissan Versa hatchbacks original...

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Global Entry – do you need it?

If you take even one trip outside the U.S. this year, Global Entry is well worth the cost

The airport security lines are long with no end in sight. Is there a way to cut your wait time? If you are traveling outside the United States, Global Entr...

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The downside of working from home

You'll probably put in more hours without getting paid for them

Telecommuting is much more common than it once was. And while there are many benefits for employees sick of the morning commute and office politics, there...

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Why gas isn't going back to $3 a gallon

American producers will keep oil prices in check

Gasoline prices rose late last year, at a time when prices at the pump normally go down.The normal decrease is because the nation's refineries have com...

PhotoGasoline prices rose late last year, at a time when prices at the pump normally go down.

The normal decrease is because the nation's refineries have completed the switch-over to winter grade gasoline, which is cheaper to produce. Consumers also tend to drive less in the late fall and early winter, reducing demand.

So what was behind the uncharacteristic price rise? The price of oil, pure and simple.

OPEC, primarily Saudi Arabia, agreed to cut back oil production. Even big non-OPEC producers, like Russia, vowed to produce less.

Oil traders got the message. The oil glut that has existed for more than two years was about to get a lot smaller. With stockpiles falling, the price had to rise, the thinking went.

$50-plus oil

So far, oil prices have continued to follow that script. The price of both foreign and domestically produced oil has settled in the low $50 range, and that has sent prices at the pump higher. It's even caused some analysts to suggest that gasoline prices could creep back above $3 a gallon in the coming months, as they have in Hawaii, where pump prices are always higher because of steep transportation costs.

But just how likely is it that we'll return to the "good old days" for energy speculators? There is one big thing working against gasoline prices going to $3 a gallon and beyond. The U.S. oil industry.

The reason oil prices have been low for more than two years is because Saudi Arabia ramped up production specifically to drive American shale oil producers out of business. While they undoubtedly damaged the industry, driving some small companies out of business, they made those that survived much more efficient. As a result, shale producers can be profitable at $50 a barrel. As the price of oil goes up, these producers will produce more oil in the U.S., helping to offset the declines in the rest of the world.

Ready for a comeback

"U.S. shale is ready for a comeback," declared an article in Business Insider this week, noting that shale companies are starting to raise money for expanded production. Rig counts are at the highest level in more than a year.

Already, consumers may be seeing the results when they fill up. Early this week AAA reported the national average gasoline price had dropped eight days in a row. It has since declined even more, to $2.32 a gallon.

While AAA says the decline may be temporary, depending on whether OPEC can keep its commitment, U.S. producers are likely to keep energy speculators in check. With American producers not bound by any production agreements, it could be very risky for investors to bet on a big increase in oil prices in the months ahead.

So, while some states may get close to $3 a gallon -- Hawaii is already there -- most states will probably stay below it.

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Skin cancer cream linked to dog deaths

Even tiny amounts of the cream can kill dogs, FDA says

A skin cream used to treat cancer in people has been linked to five dog deaths, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency is warning p...

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New software aims to reduce medication errors

Harvard researchers who tested it are encouraged by the results

Medication errors, in which a patient takes too much, too little, or the wrong drug altogether, is a growing concern among healthcare policymakers.Gove...

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Airline fares post 3rd quarter year-over-year decline

That doesn't count those annoying 'add-ons'

The cost of flying was lower during the third quarter of last year than it was for the same period in 2015.The Transportation Department’s Bureau of Tr...

PhotoThe cost of flying was lower during the third quarter of last year than it was for the same period in 2015.

The Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports average domestic air fare fell 8.8% to $344 in the between July and September.

Average fares are based on domestic itinerary fares consisting of round-trip fares, unless the customer does not purchase a return trip. In that case, the one-way fare is included. One-way trips accounted for 38% of fares calculated for the third quarter.

The average domestic one-way air fare was $242 in the third quarter, while the average round-trip air fare was $424. Fares are based on the total ticket value, which consists of the price charged by the airlines plus any additional taxes and fees levied by an outside entity at the time of purchase.

Fares include only the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and do not include fees for optional services, such as baggage fees. Averages also do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares.”

Historical comparison

Third-quarter fares were up 17.2% from the recession-affected low of $343 in 2009 to the third quarter of 2014. In the two-year period from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016, fares fell 14.4%.

The third-quarter 2016 fare was down 26.5% from the average fare of $468 in 2000 -- the highest inflation-adjusted third quarter average fare in the 21 years since BTS began collecting air fare records. Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 24.1%.

In recent years, airlines have obtained additional revenue from fees charged to passengers, as well as from other sources. U.S. passenger airlines collected 74.7% of their total revenue from passenger fares during the third quarter of 2016 compared with 87.6% in 1995.

The complete report may be found on the BTS website.

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Nissan recalls model year 2017 Infiniti QX30s

The passenger airbag may fail to deploy

Nissan North America is recalling 509 model year 2017 Infiniti QX30s manufactured August 11, 2016, to September 27, 2016.The vehicles have a passenger...

PhotoNissan North America is recalling 509 model year 2017 Infiniti QX30s manufactured August 11, 2016, to September 27, 2016.

The vehicles have a passenger airbag inflator initiator that may fail to ignite during a crash, preventing the air bag from deploying. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

A passenger air bag that fails to deploy in the event of a crash can increase the risk of injury.

What to do

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

Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261.

 

 

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Mazda recalls various vehicles with airbag inflator issue

The airbag inflator may rupture, resulting in injury or death

Mazda North America Operations is recalling 9,018 vehicles including model year 2009 RX-8 vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansa...

PhotoMazda North America Operations is recalling 9,018 vehicles including model year 2009 RX-8 vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone B" above, Mazda is recalling certain 2005-2006 MPV and 2005-2008 RX-8 vehicles originally sold, or ever 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.

These vehicles are equipped with airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules used as original equipment or replacement equipment.

In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger front airbag, 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

Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front passenger side air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin March 7, 2017.

Owners may contact Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500. Mazda's number for this recall is 0617A.

 

 

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McLaren recalls model year 2012 MP4-12C vehicles

The vehicle's airbag inflator may rupture

McLaren Automotive Incorporated is recalling 359 model year 2012 MP4-12C vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in the states of Alabama, California...

PhotoMcLaren Automotive Incorporated is recalling 359 model year 2012 MP4-12C vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

These vehicles are equipped with certain airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules 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

McLaren will notify owners, and dealers will replace the air bag inflators, free of charge. Remedy parts are not currently available. McLaren will send a letter to the affected owners to notify them of the recall and will mail a follow up letter when remedy parts are available.

Owners may contact McLaren customer service at 1-646-8916.

 

 

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Honda recalls Goldwing motorcycles

The motorcycle's airbag inflator may rupture

American Honda Motor Co. is recalling a total of 882 Goldwing motorcycles.Included are model year 2006-2009 and 2012 Honda GL1800 (Goldwing) motorcycle...

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Fisker Karmas recalled

The vehicle's airbag inflator may rupture

Karma Automotive is recalling 811 model year 2012 Fisker Karma vehicles originally sold, or ever registered, in the states of Alabama, California, Florida,...

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Traffic safety agency awaits a new administrator

Trump has given no indication of a likely nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

As Obama Era safety regulators head for the exit ramps, they leave behind a lot of unfinished business. That's pretty much par for the course in Washington...

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Out-of-network doctors' bills can be breathtaking

Researchers say anesthesiologists mark up services six times over what Medicare pays

Right now, the biggest controversy in the healthcare field is the price of prescription medications. Politicians from Elizabeth Warren to Donald Trump have...

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Do you suffer from 'masked hypertension?'

Researchers say one in eight Americans suffer from the condition

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is called "the silent killer." Elevated blood pressure can eventually lead to heart attack and stroke, and millions o...

PhotoHypertension, or high blood pressure, is called "the silent killer." Elevated blood pressure can eventually lead to heart attack and stroke, and millions of people with hypertension don't know it.

There is very effective medication to control blood pressure -- and a healthy lifestyle also helps -- but first you have to know that your blood pressure is too high.

As we first reported back in early December, doctors have begun to worry about what they call "masked hypertension." A patient goes to the doctor and his blood pressure reading is a perfectly acceptable 129/82.

But then he goes about his daily life -- going to work, picking up the kids, cleaning out the garage, and while he's doing all that his blood pressure might be an unhealthy 147/96. He doesn't know, of course, because he doesn't have a blood pressure cuff at home to measure it.

Numbers are alarming

Researchers at Stony Brook and Columbia universities have studied this phenomenon by attaching 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitors to subjects in their study. They now say that not only is the condition real, the numbers associated with it are alarming.

They found 12.3% of people display a normal blood pressure reading in the clinic, are not taking blood pressure lowering medicines, have never had a heart attack or stroke, but have high blood pressure during their daily activities. This amounts to about one in eight adults over age 21 -- approximately 17.1 million people in the U.S.

Lead investigator Joseph Schwartz of Stony Brook says the study is breaking new ground in estimating the size of the problem. He says it could lead to new guidelines to help identify patients with high blood pressure and improve hypertension preventive methods.

What to do

Until then, it is helpful to know the hypertension risk factors. People over age 50 are at risk of developing hypertension. So are those who are overweight or obese, or have a sedentary lifestyle with little physical exercise.

Diet can also be a big risk factor. Eating unhealthy foods, especially those high in sodium, can increase the risk for hypertension. African-Americans are at a higher risk than other races.

If you think you might fall into one of those risk categories, consider investing in a home blood pressure monitoring cuff and learn how to properly use it.

Measuring your blood pressure two or three times a week, at different times of the day, might let you know if you are suffering from "masked hypertension," even though your readings at the doctor's office look just fine.

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New home construction surges in December

Jobless claims post solid weekly drop

Developers were building new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,226,000 in December -- up 11.3% from No...

Photo
Photo (c) Romolo Tavani - Fotolia

Developers were building new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,226,000 in December -- up 11.3% from November and 5.7% above the December 2015 rate.

The Commerce Department reports the increase was due to the advance of 53.9% in the construction of apartment buildings. Single-family housing starts were down 4.0%.

For all of 2016, an estimated 1,166,400 housing units were started , 4.9% more than during the prior year.

The report, said National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz, "represents firm growth for housing in 2016," adding, "we expect that 2017 will be another year of gradual, steady improvement in the housing market.”

Building permits

Building permits, an indicator of construction plans in the months ahead, inched up just 0.2% last month. Authorizations for single-family homes rose 4.7%, while permits for apartment buildings were down 10.1%

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

Photo
Photo (c) designer491 - Fotolia

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits were down during the second week of the year.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), initial jobless claims plunged by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 234,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000.

The four-week moving average which, because of its relative lack of volatility is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was down 10,250 to 246,750. That's the lowest level since November 3, 1973 when it was 244,000.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

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Builder confidence slips in January

The previous month's reading was lower than first reported

A slight slip in January in the confidence of builders in the market for newly-built single-family homes.According to the National Association of Home...

PhotoA slight slip in January in the confidence of builders in the market for newly-built single-family homes.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), the confidence level was down two points to a level of 67. At the same time, the December HMI was downgraded one point.

Nonetheless, there seems to be a lot of optimism regarding the year ahead.

"Builders begin the year optimistic that a new Congress and administration will help create a better business climate for small businesses, particularly as it relates to streamlining and reforming the regulatory process," said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald.

The HMI is derived from a monthly survey that gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair," or "poor." The survey also 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 were down in January. The component gauging current sales conditions fell three points to 72, while the index charting sales expectations in the next six months registered a two-point decline to 76 and the component measuring buyer traffic edged one point lower to 51.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose two points to 52 and the Midwest posted a three-point gain to 64. The South and West each held steady at 67 and 79, respectively.

"NAHB expects solid 10% growth in single-family construction in 2017, adding to the gains of 2016," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "Concerns going into the year include rising mortgage interest rates as well as a lack of lots and access to labor."

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Trek Recalls Disc bicycles

The front brake caliper can come into contact with a broken spoke

Trek Bicycle Corp. of Waterloo, Wis., is recalling about 960 Trek 720 Disc bicycles and 340 wheel sets sold in the U.S. and Canada.The front brake cali...

PhotoTrek Bicycle Corp. of Waterloo, Wis., is recalling about 960 Trek 720 Disc bicycles and 340 wheel sets sold in the U.S. and Canada.

The front brake caliper can come into contact with a broken spoke, posing a fall hazard to the rider.

The company has received reports of 10 incidents where either the wheel spoke contacted the bike’s brake caliper or the spokes broke at the hub. There has been one reported injury involving a broken vertebra.

This recall involves model year 2015, 2016, and 2017 Trek model 720 Disc bicycles and Bontrager Approved TLR disc 700C 24H Front and Rear Wheels with silver spokes. Trek's model 720 Disc have a lightweight aluminum frame and vibration-damping carbon fork.

The bicycle models were sold in 49 through 61 cm frame sizes. “Trek” is printed across the bicycle frame. The model number can be found on the down tube. The aftermarket wheels are marked “Bontrager TLR” on the rim, and will have 24 silver spokes.

The bicycles and wheel sets, manufactured in China, were sold at bicycle stores nationwide from November 2014, through October 2016 for between $1,500 and $1,900 for bikes and March 2015, through November 2016, for aftermarket wheels for between $80 and $90.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and wheel sets and return the bicycles to a Trek retailer for a free inspection and free replacement wheels.

Consumers may contact Trek at 800-373-4594 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.trekbikes.com and click on Safety & Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information. 

 

 

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Blue Ridge Beef recalls turkey product used to feed dogs

The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Blue Ridge Beef is recalling a frozen turkey product that is used to feed dogs.The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.The foll...

PhotoBlue Ridge Beef is recalling a frozen turkey product that is used to feed dogs.

The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The following product, sold in 2-lb. Chubs, is being recalled:

  • Lot #103 mfd12716, Turkey with bone, UPC code 854298001887

The recalled product was distributed to retail stores in North carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled product should stop using it, return it to the place of purchase for a full refund, or dispose of it immediately.

Consumers with questions may contact the company by email at blueridgebeefga@yahoo.com.

 

 

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Olymel recalls pork products

The products did not undergo federal inspection

Olymel of Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, is recalling approximately 1,124 pounds of pork ribs products.The products were repacked and distributed withou...

PhotoOlymel of Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, is recalling approximately 1,124 pounds of pork ribs products.

The products were repacked and distributed without undergoing federal inspection.

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

The following items, repacked and produced from January 10 – 13, 2017, are being recalled:

  • 10-lb. cardboard box of pork rib tips with a packaging date of Jan. 10-13, 2017.
  • 30-lb. cardboard box of pork rib tips with a packaging date of Jan. 10-13, 2017.

The recalled products, bearing establishment number “Est. 8951” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to restaurants in Michigan.

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 and media with questions about the recall may contact Richard Vigneault at (514) 497-1385.

 

 

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Feds sue student loan servicer Navient

CFPB charges the ex-Sallie Mae unit failed borrowers at every stage of the process

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is suing Navient, the nation’s largest servicer of both federal and private student loans, saying it has fa...

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Four vaccinations seniors should consider

People over age 65 are more vulnerable to some serious ailments

In recent years, vaccinations for infants and children have become entangled in controversy. Vaccinations for older people, on the other hand, trigger much...

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Depression can be just as bad for heart health as smoking or obesity, researchers say

A long-term study found that 15% of cardiovascular deaths were attributed to the condition

Maintaining a healthy heart is vital to having good overall health, but there are many issues that can get in the way. Being obese or smoking, for example,...

PhotoMaintaining a healthy heart is vital to having good overall health, but there are many issues that can get in the way. Being obese or smoking, for example, can stress the heart and lead to cardiovascular problems, but a new study shows that there is another condition that can be just as harmful.

Researchers from Helmholtz Zentrum München, along with colleagues from the Technical University of Munich and the German Center for Cardiovascular Disease, have found that depression poses just as great a risk to heart health. Further, they believe that finding how it interacts with other risk factors is of paramount importance.

“There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases,” said group leader Karl-Heinz Ladwig. “The question now is: What is the relationship between depression and other risk factors like tobacco smoke, high cholesterol levels, obesity or hypertension – how big a role does each factor play?”

Comparable risk factor

For the purposes of the study, Ladwig and his colleagues analyzed data from nearly 3,500 male patients between the ages of 45 and 74 for a total of 10 years. During that time, they tracked how depression impacted four other major risk factors for cardiovascular health.

The results indicated that depression led to the development of a fatal cardiovascular disease just as often as elevated cholesterol levels or obesity. The only risk factors that had a greater association were high blood pressure and smoking. Across the entire sample, the researchers say 15% of cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to depression.

“That is comparable to the other risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, obesity and smoking,” said Ladwig, pointing out that other risk factors caused between 8.4% and 21.4% of cardiovascular deaths.

The researchers believe that their work may have large implications on how the medical community evaluates depression as a condition. They point out that the findings indicate that the disorder has a “medium effect size within the range of major, non-congenital risk for factors for cardiovascular diseases.”

Ladwig says diagnostic investigation of co-morbid depression should become an industry standard, especially for high-risk patients.

The full study has been published in Atherosclerosis.

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Expedia lists top in-flight etiquette breaches

The chief causes of in-flight angst haven't changed all that much over the years

Oh, the overhead bin hog, thoughtlessly jamming his belongings into three different bins. Or the flipped out passenger going on a pro-or-anti-Trump rant in...

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Consumer prices on the rise in December

Gasoline costs were sharply higher

A 3.0% spike in the cost of gasoline sent consumer prices higher last month.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the December Consumer Price In...

PhotoA 3.0% spike in the cost of gasoline sent consumer prices higher last month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the December Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.3% and is up 2.1% for all of 2016.

Energy and food

Energy costs shot up 1.5% in December -- the fourth straight increase -- led by a 3.0% increase in the price of gasoline. Electricity was unchanged and the price of natural gas dipped 0.4%, its second straight decline following four months of increases.

Food prices were unchanged, with grocery store prices falling 0.2% -- the eighth consecutive decline. Four of the six major grocery store food groups fell in December: fruits and vegetables (-1.1%); meats, poultry, fish, and eggs (-0.4%); nonalcoholic beverages (- 0.3%); and cereals and bakery products (-0.1%). Dairy and related products rose 0.4% while other food at home was up 0.3%). Food away from home, or restaurant prices, were up 0.2%.

The “core” rate of inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, was up 0.2% in December and up 2.2% for all of 2016.

In December, housing costs were up 0.3%, car insurance prices jumped 0.8%, medical care rose 0.2%, and airline fares shot up 1.9%.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

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Flight cancellations and mishandled baggage rates hit record lows in November

On-time arrival rates improved as well

November was a good month for airlines and -- as a result -- the flying public.Airlines report they canceled just 0.29% of their scheduled domestic fli...

PhotoNovember was a good month for airlines and -- as a result -- the flying public.

Airlines report they canceled just 0.29% of their scheduled domestic flights in November -- the lowest for any of the 263 months with comparable records beginning in January 1995, and below the previous low of 0.33% in September 2016

In addition, according to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report, the U.S. carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.02 reports per 1,000 passengers in November. That's the lowest rate since mishandled baggage reporting started in 1987. The previous low was 2.06 a month earlier.

If that isn't enough good news, the airlines -- and their passengers -- enjoyed an on-time arrival rate of 86.5% in November, an improvement over both the 83.7% from a year earlier and the 85.5% recorded a month earlier.

The report also includes data on tarmac delays, chronically delayed flights, the causes of flight delays, flight problems, and baggage, reservation, and ticketing issues.

The complete report may be found on the Transportation Department website.

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Dutch Valley Food Distributors recalls Cappuccino Snack Mix

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

Dutch Valley Foods is recalling Cappuccino Snack Mix that may be contaminated with Salmonella.There have been no illnesses or issues reported regarding...

PhotoDutch Valley Foods is recalling Cappuccino Snack Mix that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

There have been no illnesses or issues reported regarding consumption of this product to date.

The following product is being recalled:

  • Item # 552372 Cappuccino Snack Mix; Lot Code: 20161027; Best By: 5/25/17

The recalled product is distributed in 10-lb. bulk cases, consisting of two 5-lb. bags in a case. The inner bags are clear and unlabeled.

All Items packaged and sold within the parameters mentioned are subject to this recall, including items sold on our website, www.dutchvalleyfoods.com.

The recalled items were sold on the company website, www.dutchvalleyfoods.com and distributed in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

What to do

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

Consumers with questions may call Dutch Valley Foods at 1-800-733 4191 Monday through Friday 8am - 5pm (EST).

 

 

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When to keep your sick child home from school

Parents have mixed views on when to keep kids home, poll finds

It’s the morning of a school day, and your child is sick. It’s up to you to decide if they should stay home or go to school, but the decision isn’t always...

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Florida becomes the last state to settle with Western Sky

The online lender and its affiliates are barred from doing business in the state

Florida officials have announced coordinated settlements with online lenders Western Sky Financial, LLC, CashCall, Inc., WS Funding, LLC, and Delbert Servi...

Florida officials have announced coordinated settlements with online lenders Western Sky Financial, LLC, CashCall, Inc., WS Funding, LLC, and Delbert Services Corporation.

PhotoFlorida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear had charged the companies with running an online lending scheme.

Coincidentally, there is a Florida class action settlement pending in U.S District Court for the Southern District of Florida, resolving charges that the lenders offered, serviced, and collected on Western Sky loans to Florida borrowers with illegal interest rates of more than 18%.

Assuming the court takes final action, officials say some Florida consumers stand to share more than $11 million.

“Lending schemes harm consumers seeking financial assistance, and with these settlements, Florida borrowers will now be better protected from such business practices,” Bondi said. “Thanks to a great partnership with the Office of Financial Regulation, Floridians will receive millions in restitution.”

14,000 consumers to get compensation

Bondi says the settlements are expected to provide payments for approximately 14,000 Florida consumers. To be eligible for a payout under the settlement, consumers must have borrowed from the lenders and paid back the principal plus 18% interest. Bondi says eligible borrowers will be officially notified when details are worked out.

At the same time, Western Sky and its affiliates are barred from collecting more than $15 million in outstanding loans made to Florida consumers.

Back in September a federal court ruled in a case involving the federal government and 16 states, that CashCall's business model did not provide an exemption from fair lending laws. The case was joined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which had challenged CashCall's use of the “tribal model” to make and collect on loans in states that limit interest rates.

Western Sky stopped accepting loan applications in 2013 after tangling in court with a number of states. But CashCall continued to automatically withdraw payments from customers' accounts even though the loans were voided as a result of the state probes, according to an American Banker report.

Western Sky initially claimed immunity from state interest rate caps through its affiliation with the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.

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Perfect Fit Meals recalls chicken breast product

The product may contain milk and wheat,allergens not declared on the label

Perfect Fit Meals of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 3,546 pounds of chicken breast product.The product may contain milk and wheat allergens...

PhotoPerfect Fit Meals of Houston, Texas, is recalling approximately 3,546 pounds of chicken breast product.

The product may contain milk and wheat allergens not declared on the label.

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

The following ready-to-eat chicken breast item, produced on December 20 – 21, 2016, is being recalled:

  • 10.5 ounce sealed tray package containing “From the Kitchen of Cooking Light Magazine: Lemon Pepper Chicken” with “Use or Freeze By” date of 01/21/17 and lot code 2457744.2

The recalled product, bearing establishment number “P-827” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to military commissaries and retail establishments nationwide.

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled product are should not consume it, but throw it away or returned it to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Mona Powell at (281) 953-3200. 

 

 

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Hostess Brands recalls Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

Hostess Brands is recalling its Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies.The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.No illnesses have been re...

PhotoHostess Brands is recalling its Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies.

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recalled product (UPC 888109111571) were only sold in multipack boxes (9 individually wrapped cakes in a box to mass merchandisers, grocery stores, distributors, dollar and discount stores and convenience stores throughout the U.S.

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled product should discontinue consumption and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may call 1-800-483-7253 Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (CT).

 

 

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Boosted recalls electric skateboards

The lithium ion battery pack can overheat and smoke

Boosted Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., is recalling about 3,300 electric-powered skateboards sold in the U.S. and Canada.The lithium ion battery pack c...

PhotoBoosted Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., is recalling about 3,300 electric-powered skateboards sold in the U.S. and Canada.

The lithium ion battery pack can overheat and smoke, posing a fire hazard.

The company has received two reports of the battery packs overheating and smoking. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves 2nd Generation Boosted Dual+ electric skateboards with lithium ion battery packs. “Boosted” is printed on the wooden skateboards. Serial numbers that start with S2634 through S2644 are located on a white sticker on the bottom of the boards.

The battery packs were sold as original equipment with the skateboards and are attached to the bottom of the board in a black thermoplastic enclosure.

Model number B2SR and “Boosted Lithium” are printed on the battery pack. The battery packs have an orange power button.

The skateboards, manufactured in China, were sold online at boostedboards.com from September 2016, through November 2016, for about $1,500.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled skateboards and contact Boosted for a free replacement battery pack.

Consumers may contact Boosted toll-free at 844-395-0070 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at https://boostedboards.com and click on Battery Pack Recall for more information.

 

 

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Tupperware U.S. recalls Southwest Chipotle Seasoning

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

Tupperware U.S. of Orlando, Fla., is recalling limited quantities of Southwest Chipotle Seasoning that has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella...

PhotoTupperware U.S. of Orlando, Fla., is recalling limited quantities of Southwest Chipotle Seasoning that has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

No illnesses have been reported.

The Seasoning packets, distributed nationwide to consumers, show LOT #16189305 on the package back above the Best By date.

What to do

Customers in possession of any of the recalled product should send it to:

Tupperware U.S., Inc.

ATTN: Julie Castro

14901 South Orange Blossom Trail

Orlando, FL 32837

The returning party should include a name, address, phone number and email address. Tupperware will send -- in return -- a $15 eGift Certificate, per Seasoning package, to cover the cost of the product and shipping.

Consumers with questions may call 1-800-TUPPERWARE (1-800-887-7379).  

 

 

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Yamaha recalls snowmobiles

The turbocharger overboost can cause severe engine damage

Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. of Cypress, Calif., is recalling about 400 snowmobiles with aftermarket turbochargers.The turbocharger overboost can ca...

PhotoYamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A. of Cypress, Calif., is recalling about 400 snowmobiles with aftermarket turbochargers.

The turbocharger overboost can cause severe engine damage, posing crash and fire hazards to the user.

The firm has received 40 reports of engine damage due to the turbocharge overboost. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves Yamaha model year 2016 SR10 “SRViper” snowmobiles that are equipped with a dealer-installed Mountain Performance Inc. (MPI) Turbo Kit sold by Yamaha.

The recalled snowmobiles were sold in several colors. The model name is printed on the left and right side of the front cowling. The vehicle identification number (VIN) and the model number are stamped on the frame (tunnel) near the right foot-well.

The letter G in the 10th position of the VIN number indicates that the unit was made in the 2016 model year.

 

Model

Model Number

Colors

SRViper R-TX DX

SR10RDGB, SR10RDGR

Blue, Red/Black

SRViper R-TX SE

SR10RSGL, SR10RSGR

Blue, Red/White

SRViper R-TX LE

SR10RLGL, SR10RLGW

Blue, Red/White

SRViper L-TX DX

SR10LDGB, SR10LDGR

Black/Red, Black

SRViper L-TX SE

SR10LSGL, SR10LSGR

Blue, Red/White

SRViper L-TX LE

SR10LLGW

Blue, White/Red

SRViper S-TX DX 137

SR10SD37GR

Black/Red

SRViper S-TX DX 146

SR10SD46GB

Black

SRViper X-TX SE

SR10XSGL, SR10XSGR

Blue, Red/White

SRViper X-TX LE

SR10XLGL, SR10XLGW

White/Blue, White/Red

SRViper M-TX 141 SE

SR10MS41GL, SR10MS41GR

Blue, Red/White

SRViper M-TX 153

SR10M53GB, SR10M53GR

Black, Red/White

SRViper M-TX 153 SE

SR10MS53GL, SR10MS53GR

Blue, Red/White

SRViper M-TX 153 LE

SR10ML53GL, SR10ML53GW

Blue, White/Red

SRViper M-TX 162

SR10M62GB, SR10M62GR

Black, Red/Black

SRViper M-TX 162 SE

SR10MS62GL, SR10MS62GR

Blue, Red/White

SRViper M-TX 162 LE

SR10ML62GL, SR10ML62GW

Blue, White/Red

The snowmobiles, manufactured in the U.S, were sold at Yamaha snowmobile dealers nationwide from August 2015, through April 2016, for between $12,800 and $14,100.

The Mountain Performance Inc. (MPI) Turbo Kits were sold as an after-market accessory at Yamaha snowmobile dealers nationwide from March 2015, through September 2016, for about $3,300.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled snowmobiles and contact a local Yamaha dealer to schedule a free repair. Yamaha is contacting all registered owners directly.

Consumers may contact Yamaha at 800-962-7926 anytime or online at www.yamahamotorsports.com and click on “CPSC Alerts” for more information.

 

 

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Consumers 'window shop' on the web too

Study finds most of us visit a retailer's site the first time without buying anything

There's an old-school retail expression called “window shopping.” It's when a consumer walking down the street stops at a storefront to gaze at the product...

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55+ housing market: full speed ahead

Experts see continued growth in the sector

Industry experts attending the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla., expect the 55+ housing market wi...

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BRP recalls side-by-side off-road vehicles

The vehicles can roll away when in the “park” or “P” position,

BRP U.S. of Sturtevant, Wis., is recalling about 780 side-by-side off-road vehicles.The vehicles can unexpectedly roll away when in the “park” or “P” p...

PhotoBRP U.S. of Sturtevant, Wis., is recalling about 780 side-by-side off-road vehicles.

The vehicles can unexpectedly roll away when in the “park” or “P” position, posing an injury hazard to users.

The firm has received six reports of the vehicles moving when in the “park” or “P” position. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves model year 2016 Can-Am Defender, Defender DPS, and Defender XT model side-by-side off-road vehicles.

The vehicles were sold in various colors and have four tires, two seats and a cargo box on the back. “Can-am” is printed on the side of the cargo box and the model name is printed on the side of the front of the vehicle beside the headlight. The model name and vehicle identification number (VIN) are printed on a label under the glove box.

The vehicles, manufactured in Mexico, were sold at Can-Am dealers nationwide from October 2015, through December 2016, for between $10,000 and $15,700.

What to do

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

Consumers may contact BRP toll-free at 888-272-9222 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) any day or online at www.can-am.brp.com and click on the Off-Road website and then the “Owners” tab at the top of the page and then “Safety” and then “View Notices” for more information.

 

 

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Schreiber Processing recalls chicken tender products

The products may be contaminated with plastic

Schreiber Processing Corp. of Maspeth, N.Y., is recalling approximately 2,330 pounds of chicken tender products that may be contaminated with plastic.T...

PhotoSchreiber Processing Corp. of Maspeth, N.Y., is recalling approximately 2,330 pounds of chicken tender products that may be contaminated with plastic.

There have been no confirmed reports of injury or illness due to consumption of these products.

The following products, produced on December 8, 2016, and packaged on December 9, 2016, are being recalled:

  • 10-lb. boxes containing “Meal Mart BATTERED & BREADED CHICKEN BREAST TENDERS” bearing item code 03-CTB and production code 0246

The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-787” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutional and retail locations in New Jersey, New York and Washington.

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 Mordechai Milworn at (718) 894-2000 ext. 336.

 

 

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Consumers still punishing Wells Fargo

Earnings report shows big drop in new bank and credit card accounts

When federal regulators discovered last fall that Wells Fargo had been creating credit card and checking accounts for its customers without their permissio...

PhotoWhen federal regulators discovered last fall that Wells Fargo had been creating credit card and checking accounts for its customers without their permission, simply to boost its fees, regulators punished the bank with millions of dollars in fines.

But it turns out consumers have also been punishing the bank.

When Wells Fargo reported its earnings for the latest quarter and full year, it disclosed that new credit card accounts plunged 43% year-over-year and dropped 7% from the previous month.

As for bank accounts, new checking accounts plunged 40% from December 2015. However, they were up slightly from November.

But that bit of good news was overshadowed by the revelation that some current Wells Fargo checking account customers simply stopped using their accounts without closing them. Between November and December, active checking account customers fell by 100,000.

5,300 bank employees fired

Back in September, Wells Fargo reached a settlement with federal agencies and the City of Los Angeles over revelations it had opened millions of accounts without customers' knowledge or permission. In settling with government agencies, Wells Fargo announced that it had fired 5,300 employees and changed sales practices to end incentives to open new accounts.

Regulators charged that, not only was it fraudulent to move money and open accounts without a customer's permission, the customer also incurred fees in the process, costing him or her money.

In the earnings report Friday, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said the bank is working to regain the trust of consumers, employees and other key stakeholders.

“I am pleased with the progress we have made in customer remediation, the ongoing review of sales practices across the company and fulfilling our regulatory requirements for sales practices matters,” Sloan said. “As planned, we launched our new retail bank compensation program this month, which is based on building lifelong relationships with our customers.”

It should be noted that not everyone is punishing Wells Fargo. Even after reporting its earnings, which fell short of analysts' estimates, the company's stock rose on Wall Street. CNBC reported investors are looking past the bad news and are convinced the bank's profits will still rise in the future.

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EPA once again reaffirms 2025 fuel efficiency standards

The final determination is legally binding and won't be easy to overturn, experts say

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made it official -- locking down its finding that the tough fuel efficiency standards instituted by the Obama...

PhotoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made it official -- locking down its finding that the tough fuel efficiency standards instituted by the Obama Administration should remain in force through 2025.

The finding by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is part of an effort by federal agencies to try to preserve Obama's policies into the Trump Era. Automakers had made last-minute pleas for relief from the rules, which nearly double the current mileage standards.

Environmental and consumer advocacy groups applauded the ruling.

"The Clean Cars Standards are already successfully protecting both Americans’ lungs and their wallets. They’re also driving innovations that are creating auto industry jobs,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Today’s determination ensures that we can all continue to breathe – and drive – a little easier.”

Krupp noted that despite industry complaints, automakers are in many cases already meeting or exceeding the current standards. In a statement, Krupp noted that the EPA had determined that:

  • The current standards will save consumers money and provide benefits to the health and welfare of Americans.
  • Automakers have outperformed the standards for the first four years of the program (from model year 2012 to 2015) and manufacturers are adopting fuel efficient technologies at unprecedented rates – all while vehicle sales have increased for seven consecutive years to an all-time record high in 2016.
  • There are more than 100 cars, SUVs, and pickups on the market today that already meet 2020 or later standards.
  • Auto manufacturers can meet the model year 2022 to 2025 standards at lower costs than predicted when the standards were finalized in 2012.

Out of step?

Automakers have argued that the tough fuel standards are out of step with consumer preferences and impose significant costs that are passed on to consumers.
 
The Consumer Federation of America released a poll that it said showed even Trump supporters were largely in favor of better fuel efficiency.

The survey, conducted in December, found two-thirds of Donald Trump voters support strong fuel economy standards, which were also supported by four-fifths of Hillary Clinton voters.

“This is a pocketbook issue for American voters,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s director of public affairs. “Consumers across the board want more miles-per-gallon, and they understand that national standards provide automakers with sensible targets they otherwise might not achieve. Gas prices are low now, but they won’t always stay this low.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency's decision to stick with the standards is based on an extensive technical record. 

"At every step in the process, the analysis has shown that the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks remain affordable and effective through 2025, and will save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump while protecting our health and the environment," she said.

Striking a balance

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers criticized the decision and said it would work with regulators to find a compromise.
 
"Our fundamental priority remains striking the right balance to continue fuel economy gains and carbon reduction without compromising consumer affordability and vital auto-sector jobs," said spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist.
 

Automakers hope to work with regulators and California, Bergquist said, "to see whether we can find a prudent compromise path forward that avoids an unnecessary and counterproductive regulatory collision."

The EPA's action is legally binding and will not be easy to undo, legal experts have said. It would require an extensive process to conduct an entirely new technical justification for weakening the standards, a task that would likely take years.

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Study reveals best and worst states for lovers

Top states for lovers had high marriage rates and low numbers of people living in isolation

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FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez resigns

Top appointees are leaving their posts as the Obama Administration winds down

Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced her resignation today as the Obama Administration enters its final week.“It has been the ho...

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Gun TV pauses to reload

Billed as iTunes for guns, the home shopping network says it will return

Gun TV, a home shopping network for guns, has signed off, at least for now. The channel's co-founder, Valerie Castle, vows it will be back but won't say ju...

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Why rural living can be hazardous to your health

A CDC report finds rural residents are more likely to die from five preventable causes

A popular perception of rural life is it is healthier. There is less crime, less stress, and generally a slower pace of life.But when it comes to the f...

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Holiday sales increase by 4% in 2016

Experts point to an improving economy as the main cause

Holiday retail sales in November and December showed strong gains in 2016. The National Retail Federation (NRF) says sales increased year-over-year by 4% t...

PhotoHoliday retail sales in November and December showed strong gains in 2016. The National Retail Federation (NRF) says sales increased year-over-year by 4% to $658.3 billion, mostly due to a strengthening economy.

Additionally, non-store sales surged during the latter part of last year to $122.9 billion, which is up 12.6% from 2015. The increases eclipse previous NRF predictions of a 3.6% increase during the holidays, and experts say that it only shows that the economy is picking up steam.

“These numbers show that the nation’s slow-but-steady economic recovery is picking up speed and that consumers feel good about the future. Retail mirrors the economy. And while there might have been some bumps in the road for individual companies, the retail industry overall had a solid holiday season and retailers will work to sustain this in the year ahead,” said NRF CEO and President Matthew Shay.

Online sales flourish

While the numbers look good for overall holiday retail, Shay points out that online and non-store sales continued to improve over sales at brick-and-mortar locations, going up by 12.6%. However, he adds that it doesn’t matter much to the retailer if consumers are buying online or at store locations – as long as the money keeps rolling in.

“There has been a lot of talk about online versus in-store retail in the past few months, but that comes from people who don’t realize that online and retail today are the same thing,” Shay said.

“In the new distributed commerce world that allows consumers to buy any product, anytime, anywhere, it really doesn’t matter whether a customer shops in a company’s store or on its website or mobile app. It’s all retail. Today’s retailers sell to shoppers any way they want to buy.”

Economic improvements

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz points out that hourly earnings were up year-over-year in 2016, while job gains were strong and unemployment stayed relatively low. All of this, combined with strong economic indicators, led to strong retail sales over the holiday season.

“The economy was clearly stronger in the fall and consumers were more active during the holiday season than they had been earlier in the year,” Kleinhenz said. “Economic indicators were up, retailers offered great deals, confidence improved and all of that empowered consumers to spend more.”

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Retail sales post December gain

Strong auto sales were a big factor

A sizable advance in auto sales helped push overall retail sales higher in December.The Commerce Depart reports sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $46...

PhotoA sizable advance in auto sales helped push overall retail sales higher in December.

The Commerce Depart reports sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $469.1 billion last month -- up 0.6% from November.

Ups and downs

The increase of 2.4% in auto sales led the December advance, followed by gas station (+2.0%), non-store retailers (+1.3%), and furniture and home furnishing stores (+0.5).

Sales fell at miscellaneous store retailers (-1.0%), restaurants and bars (-0.8%), department stores (-0.6%), and general merchandise stores (-0.5%) Sales at clothing & clothing accessories stores were unchanged. For all of 2016, sales were up up 3.3% from the year before.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

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Wholesale prices up again in December

Jobless claims head higher

Wholesale prices, or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand, rose...

Photo
Photo (c) zimmytws - Fotolia
Wholesale prices, or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand, rose for the third time in four months in December.

Last month's seasonally adjusted increase of 0.3% follows an advance of 0.4% in November and no change in October. For all of 2016, wholesale prices were up 1.6% after falling 1.1% the year before.

Almost 80% of the December increase came from an increase of 0.7% in prices for goods. Within that category, energy prices were up 2.6%, with gasoline costs surging 7.8%. In addition, prices for light motor trucks, jet fuel, iron and steel scrap, chicken eggs, and liquefied petroleum gas also increased. The cost of fresh fruits and melons plunged 13.6%.

The cost of services inched up 0.1%. Roughly 70% of that can be attributed to prices for services less trade, transportation, and warehousing, which rose 0.2 percent. Prices for transportation and warehousing services, on the other hand, dipped 0.4%.

Prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services -- the “core” rate of inflation -- was up 0.1% in December. For the year as a whole, the core jumped 1.7% following an increase of 0.3% in 2015.

The complete report may be found on the BLS website

Photo
Photo (c) designer491 - Fotolia

Initial jobless claims

The year got started with a surge in the number of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims jumped by 10,000 in the week ending January 7 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000.

Even with that increase, the initial claims total has remained under 300,000 for 97 consecutive weeks -- the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, considered by may economists to be a more accurate gauge of the labor market because of its lack of volatility, was down 1,750 to 256,500.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

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Arctic Cat recalls snowmobiles

The fuel tank can crack and leak fuel

Arctic Cat of Thief River Falls, Minn., is recalling about 20,700 snowmobiles.The fuel tank can crack and fuel can leak into the engine compartment, po...

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Bad Boy off-road utility vehicles recalled

One death and one injury are reported

Textron Specialized Vehicles of Augusta, Ga., is recalling about 1,100 Bad Boy off-road utility vehicles.As a result of the vehicles rolling over, a 14...

PhotoTextron Specialized Vehicles of Augusta, Ga., is recalling about 1,100 Bad Boy off-road utility vehicles.

As a result of the vehicles rolling over, a 14-year-old passenger died in Toombs County, Ga., in 2014 and -- in a separate rollover incident -- a man suffered a serious leg injury.

The vehicles lack seat belts, posing a risk of serious injury or death to the operator and passengers in the event of a vehicle accident.

This recall involves Bad Boy XTO and Bone Collector XTO model off-road utility vehicles manufactured by Textron Specialized Vehicles. The recalled four-wheeled vehicles are battery-powered and have a bench seat for a driver and one passenger and a two-passenger, rear-facing bench seat on the back.

The vehicles were sold in camouflage, black, white, forest green, flame red, and patriot blue and the brand and model name are printed on the side and front panels. They have serial numbers ranging from 8000020 through 8004934. The serial number is located on the steering column connected to the wheel.

The recalled utility vehicles, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Bad Boy dealers nationwide from November 2010, through June 2013, for between $13,200 and $14,200.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact Textron Specialized Vehicles or an authorized dealer for a free installation of seat belts. Textron Specialized Vehicles is contacting all known purchasers directly.

Consumers may contact Textron Specialized Vehicles toll-free at 855-738-3711 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.badboyoffroad.com and click on “Recall Information” for more information.

 

 

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Public health alert issued for chicken strips products

The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for ready to eat chicken strips products produced b...

PhotoThe Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for ready to eat chicken strips products produced by House of Raeford of Mocksville, N.C.

The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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

A recall was not requested because it is believed that all products have now been consumed.

The ready to eat, fully cooked, chicken breast strips items, produced and packaged on September 29, 2016, were shipped to a distributor in Cleveland, Ohio, and then shipped to various restaurants in the area as part of fajita or gyro dishes in December, 2016.

What to do

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

 

 

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Toyota expands Takata airbag safety recall

More than a-half million vehicles are included

Based on recent information from Takata as required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota Motor North America, is expanding its rec...

PhotoBased on recent information from Takata as required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota Motor North America, is expanding its recall involving Takata front passenger airbag inflators.

The involved vehicles are equipped with a particular type of inflator -- in which -- according to Takata a safety defect may arise in front passenger airbag inflators due to inflator propellant degradation occurring after prolonged exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures, and high temperature cycling. This could result in an inflator rupture when the air bag deploys.

This expansion involves approximately 543,000 additional vehicles in the U.S., including:

  • 2008 – 2009 and 2012 Model Year Scion xB
  • 2009 and 2012 Model Year Toyota Corolla
  • 2009 and 2012 Model Year Toyota Corolla Matrix
  • 2007 – 2009 and 2012 Model Year Toyota Yaris
  • 2012 Model Year Toyota 4Runner
  • 2012 Model Year Toyota Sienna
  • 2006 – 2009 and 2012 Model Year Lexus IS250/350
  • 2012 Model Year Lexus IS250C/350C
  • 2008 – 2009 and 2012 Model Year Lexus IS‐F
  • 2007 – 2009 and 2012 Model Year Lexus ES350
  • 2012 Model Year Lexus GX460
  • 2012 Model Year Lexus LFA

All known owners of the recalled vehicles will be notified by first class mail starting in February.

What to do

Depending on the vehicle model, dealers will replace either the front passenger air bag inflator or air bag assembly at no cost.

For more information consumers may call Toyota customer service at 1‐800‐331‐4331, or Lexus customer service at 1‐800‐255‐3987.

 

 

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Checks going out to 350,000 Herbalife distributors

The checks are part of a $200 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission

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Amazon vows to create 100,000 U.S.-based jobs by mid-2018

After earlier criticisms, CEO Jeff Bezos says President-elect Trump's plan to create jobs could pay huge dividends

One of the primary campaign points for President-elect Donald Trump was creating jobs and keeping businesses in the U.S. Many companies caught the new Comm...

PhotoOne of the primary campaign points for President-elect Donald Trump was creating jobs and keeping businesses in the U.S. Many companies caught the new Commander in Chief’s ire while he was on the campaign trail, but a scuffle between Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was notable.

The president-elect accused Bezos in a May interview of buying the Washington Post in order to influence the political landscape. Later on, Bezos fired shots at the businessman, saying that Trump’s behavior “erodes democracy around the edges.”

Nevertheless, it seems that Amazon will be doing just what Trump wants in the coming years by creating more U.S.-based jobs. The retailer announced on Thursday that it has a plan to create over 100,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. by mid-2018, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Expanding and creating jobs

Amazon says that many of the new jobs will be located in Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, and other areas where it is creating additional warehouses. During the third quarter of 2016, Amazon built another two dozen warehouses, bringing the total global number up to 150.

Additionally, the company brought on around 120,000 seasonal workers during the holidays in the U.S., many of which are staying on to fill expanded positions, the company said. Other than warehouse staff, Amazon says it will also be filling positions in engineer and software development.

“Innovation is one of our guiding principles at Amazon, and it’s created hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” said Bezos.

Change of tune

In a bit of reversal, Bezos has also shown some support for Trump and his plan for creating jobs after meeting with him in December. During the meeting, which featured a number of Silicon Valley executives, Trump promised to work with tech companies to create fair-trade deals and help foster innovation.

“[Trump’s plan] would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech—agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing—everywhere,” said Bezos in a statement.

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Things not to do on a job interview

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New Amazon rewards Visa pays 5% cash back

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Setting financial goals for 2017

Honestly analyzing 2016's performance can help improve 2017

It's still not too late to make a New Year's resolution, and if you are hoping to get ahead financially in 2017, resolving to get a handle on your finances...

PhotoIt's still not too late to make a New Year's resolution, and if you are hoping to get ahead financially in 2017, resolving to get a handle on your finances is a very worthy goal.

GreenPath Financial Wellness, a non-profit credit counseling and education organization, says a good way to start is to stop and think about what went right financially in 2016. Once you have an idea of where you made financial progress, try to think of the reasons you were successful. Did you take concrete action or were you just lucky?

Next, think of the things that made up your success. Were you able to reduce your debt load during the year? Were you able to increase your savings? Both are signs of financial progress. Another positive sign is if you were able to pay cash for a major purchase.

Be honest about what didn't go right

After reviewing the positives, take an honest look at the negatives. If you did not make as much financial progress as you would have liked, ask yourself what could have gone better. What are the areas of your financial life that need improvement?

Most importantly, think about changes you can make in your financial management that can produce better results.

The important thing is to learn from the past and apply those lessons to the future. If 2016 didn't turn out as well as you would have liked, look for ways to make changes.

"If you promised yourself you would save receipts and forgot half way through the first week, maybe try an app," said Katie Bossler, GreenPath financial wellness expert. "Or, if you have an app you never used, maybe try putting pen to paper and keeping a spending journal."

Think small

It's also important to think small as well as big. Chances are there are a number little changes you can make that will put you on a more sound financial footing.

"Maybe it means not getting that cup of coffee, or deciding against that online order," said Bossler. "Maybe it means deciding to cook something for dinner with food you already have, rather than eating out."

What to do

Here are five quick tips, courtesy of GreenPath, that might make you more successful in 2017:

  • Open a separate savings account. Keeping money separate from your monthly cash flow can reduce unbudgeted spending.
  • Educate yourself. Read books and blogs from credible personal finance experts
  • Check your credit report and score. Keep up with where you stand financially.
  • Plan meals. That cuts down on convenience food and restaurant meals
  • Unsubscribe. Unsubscribing from promotional emails from retailers can cut down on impulse buys.
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Completed foreclosures plunge in November

The foreclosure inventory was sharply lower as well

The number of completed foreclosures nationwide posted a year-over-year decline of 25.9% in November to 26,000, according to property information provider...

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Feds issue public health alert for sliced deli meat products

The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

The Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert regarding assorted sliced deli meat products served...

PhotoThe Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert regarding assorted sliced deli meat products served to customers at Dion’s restaurants.

The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The sliced roast beef, ham, pastrami, and turkey items produced by Peter DeFries Corporation, of Albuquerque, N.M., between Dec. 14, 2016, and Dec. 29, 2016, were distributed to Dion’s restaurant locations in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

They were used on pizzas, salads and open-faced sandwiches for customers at Dion’s restaurants.

What to do

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

 

 

 

 

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Volvo recalls S60, S60 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country and XC60 vehicles

The side airbag inflator initiators may fail to ignite during a crash

Volvo Car USA is recalling 377 model year 2017 S60 and S60 Cross Country, V60 and V60 Cross Country, and XC60 vehicles manufactured August 16, 2016, throug...

PhotoVolvo Car USA is recalling 377 model year 2017 S60 and S60 Cross Country, V60 and V60 Cross Country, and XC60 vehicles manufactured August 16, 2016, through October 21, 2016.

The vehicles have driver and front passenger seat side mounted side airbags (SAB) with inflator initiators that may fail to ignite during a crash. As such, the vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection" and number 214, "Side Impact Protection."

If the inflator initiator fails to ignite, the airbag will not deploy, increasing the risk of injury.

What to do

Volvo will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the front seat side air bags, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Volvo customer service at 1-800-458-1552. Volvo's number for this recall is R89712.

 

 

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Ford expands recall of vehicles with Takata airbag inflators

The inflators have been declared defective

Ford is expanding its recall of vehicles with certain front passenger airbag inflators.Takata has declared the inflators to be defective.The automa...

PhotoFord is expanding its recall of vehicles with certain front passenger airbag inflators.

Takata has declared the inflators to be defective.

The automaker says it is not aware of any injuries associated with the inflators included in the recall.

Approximately 816,000 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles built in North America are being recalled, including:

  • 2005-09 and 2012 Ford Mustang
  • 2005-06 Ford GT
  • 2006-09 and 2012 Ford Fusion
  • 2007-09 Ford Ranger
  • 2007-09 Ford Edge
  • 2006-09 and 2012 Lincoln Zephyr and Lincoln MKZ
  • 2007-09 Lincoln MKX
  • 2006-09 Mercury Milan

Ford says this recall includes 654,695 vehicles in the U.S. and federalized territories and 161,174 in Canada.

What to do

Customers who want to know if their vehicle is included in this recall may visit www.ford.com, click on safety recalls at the bottom of the page and enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Dealers will replace the passenger front airbag inflator at no cost to the customer. The Ford reference number for this recall is 17S01.

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4moms Self Installing Rear-facing Infant Car Seats recalled

The infant carrier portion may not attach to the seat base securely

4moms is recalling 1,622 4moms Self Installing Rear-facing Infant Car Seats, model number 1032, manufactured July 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016.Due to a...

Photo4moms is recalling 1,622 4moms Self Installing Rear-facing Infant Car Seats, model number 1032, manufactured July 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016.

Due to a tight rivet, the affected car seats have a coupling hook that may not properly engage around the coupling pin, preventing the infant carrier portion from securely attaching to the seat base.

If the infant carrier does not properly attach to the base, the carrier can detach in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

What to do

4moms will notify owners and will replace the infant carrier portion, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin mid-January 2017.

Owners may contact 4moms customer service at 1-888-614-6667.

 

 

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Shopper store pathway heatmaps identify opportunities

Eye tracking can help retailers understand where shoppers focus their attention

Kirk Hendrickson, CEO of Eye Faster, a leading provider of shopper research, developed his expertise in eye tracking and shopper research while leading wor...

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Wal-Mart to cut 1,000 corporate jobs by the end of January

Most of the alleged cuts will occur in human resources

A large number of Wal-Mart employees will likely be receiving pink slips in the near future. The Wall Street Journal, quoting a source familiar with the si...

PhotoA large number of Wal-Mart employees will likely be receiving pink slips in the near future. The Wall Street Journal, quoting a source familiar with the situation, reports that the retailer will be cutting around 1,000 corporate jobs before the end of its fiscal year on January 31.

Most of the jobs cuts are likely to occur in the human resources, technology, and e-commerce divisions of U.S.-based locations. While officials haven’t confirmed the news, they remain adamant that any future cuts will be for the best interest of the company.

“As we’ve previously shared, we are always looking for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively,” senior director of corporate communications Randy Hargrove told Consumerist. “While we continually look at our corporate structure, we have not made any announcements.  Like any organization, we make decisions based upon what’s best for our business and the customers we serve.”

Pink slips for HR

Assuming the cuts do go through, they would mark one of the larger corporate downsizing efforts for the company in recent memory. While the three aforementioned divisions are expected to be affected, human resources may receive the brunt of the downsizing; corporate officials have maintained that the HR branch is the one most in need of trimming and that outside consultants could handle many of the leftover duties.

In an investor presentation this past October, Chief Executive Doug McMillon said that company executives were striving to cut down on costs and promote growth.

“We need to manage expenses even better, which includes changing how we do work inside the company. . . We have a plan to win with customers and drive growth. We will be disciplined with our cost and capital as we do it,” he said.

Measured approach

Part of that plan is likely to involve boosting online sales. Executives have already stated that more of Wal-Mart’s annual budget will be going toward shoring up its e-commerce activities, and the company’s acquisition of Jet.com Inc. last September gives some evidence of its strategy. However, McMillon’s statements indicate that officials will be taking a measured approach.

“We must grow this company for Walmart to have a future, but we need to do it in an efficient way,” he said. “It’s not a growth at all cost mindset.”

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Fewest homeowners underwater since 2007

Rising home values have left just 2.2 million homeowners with negative equity

Rising home prices in the second half of 2016 have helped more homeowners get back to a positive equity situation, according to a report from Black Knight...

PhotoRising home prices in the second half of 2016 have helped more homeowners get back to a positive equity situation, according to a report from Black Knight Financial Services.

As of the end of November, the company says one million homeowners who were previously underwater now owe less on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Other homeowners who were barely above the break-even point in the past now have tappable equity.

"The negative equity situation has improved substantially since the height of the Great Recession," said Black Knight vice-president Ben Graboske. "There are now just 2.2 million homeowners left in negative equity positions, a full one million fewer than at the start of 2016.”

Since 2009, underwater homeowners have been a huge drag on the housing market. Owing more than their homes are worth, they have been unable to sell and move up. As interest rates fell to record lows, they were unable to refinance their loans to lower their payments.

More of a localized problem

Black Knight says roughly 30% of all homeowners were underwater on their mortgages at the end of 2010. Today, the company says the problem is more localized. Some housing markets have bounced back faster than others.

While the majority of states have negative equity rates below the national average of 4.4%, there are pockets where home values are not back to their bubble highs. Black Knight singles out Nevada, Missouri, and New Jersey as all having negative equity rates more than twice the national average.

In Atlantic City, 23% of homeowners with a mortgage are still underwater. In St. Louis, the number is 20%. And it's not the most expensive homes that have been hit the hardest. Lower-priced homes in the bottom 20% of their communities' price range are nine times more likely to be underwater than those in the top 20%.

Bright spot

Graboske says the bright spot in the report is that a growing number of borrowers are now not only back above water, but have tappable equity in their homes, meaning they have current combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratios of less than 80%.

He estimates there are about 39 million formerly underwater homeowners who now have $4.6 trillion in available, lendable equity. That, he says, can not only boost the housing market but also the overall economy.

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Should you raise your auto insurance deductible?

It all depends on where you live and how much money you have in savings

Some TV commercials for car insurance make it sound like one company covers everything while its competitors don't, leaving their customers on the hook whe...

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Toyota Highlander earns top IIHS award

The vehicle's front crash prevention system earned a superior rating

A superior-rated front crash prevention system and acceptable-rated headlights have earned the 2017 Toyota Highlander the Insurance Institute for Highway S...

PhotoA superior-rated front crash prevention system and acceptable-rated headlights have earned the 2017 Toyota Highlander the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top award.

Unlike most TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners, which only meet the front crash prevention and headlight criteria when they are equipped with optional features, the Highlander qualifies for the award with standard equipment.

In IIHS track tests of the 2017 system, the midsize SUV avoided a collision in the 12 mph test. In the 25 mph test, it avoided a collision in 4 out of 5 runs and slowed 21 mph the fifth time.

The new standard front crash prevention system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To qualify for 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five IIHS crashworthiness tests -- small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints -- as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable or good headlight rating.

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Mortgage applications turn higher

Contract interest rates continued to fall

A turnaround for mortgage applications.After falling in recent weeks, applications for mortgages rose 5.8% during the week ending January 6.The rep...

PhotoA turnaround for mortgage applications.

After falling in recent weeks, applications for mortgages rose 5.8% during the week ending January 6.

The report from the Mortgage Bankers Association includes an adjustment to account for the New Year’s Day holiday, while the previous week’s results were adjusted for the Christmas holiday.

The Refinance Index was up 4% from the previous week, although the refinance share of mortgage activity dropped to 51.2% of total applications from 52.2% a week earlier.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity advanced to 5.5% of total applications, the FHA share rose to 11.7%, the VA share went to 12.8% from 12.3% the week prior, and the USDA share of total applications slipped to 0.9% from 1.1% the week before.

Contract interest rates

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) dropped 7 basis points -- to 4.32% from 4.39% -- with points decreasing to 0.41 from 0.43 (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) fell from 4.37% to 4.27%, with points decreasing to 0.31 from 0.44 (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 14 basis points to 4.08%, with points increasing to 0.35 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRM declined to 3.56% from 3.64%, with points increasing to 0.42 from 0.38 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs inched up 4 basis points to 3.32%, with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.42 (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.

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Baby Trend recalls Centennial and Kiwi booster seats

The seats fail to comply with federal safety requirements

Baby Trend is recalling 34 Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Centennial booster seats, model number FB58181, manufactured on July 23, 2016; and Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Kiwi booste...

PhotoBaby Trend is recalling 34 Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Centennial booster seats, model number FB58181, manufactured on July 23, 2016; and Hybrid LX 3-in-1 Kiwi booster seats, model number FB48417, manufactured on July 14, 2016.

The child seats have a center adjuster rivet that may pull through or break if the harness is being used with a child weighing more than 40 lbs. As such, these child seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, "Child Restraint Systems."

In the event of a crash, the child seat occupant is at an increased risk of injury.

What to do

Baby Trend will notify owners and replace the child seat or provide a full refund. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Baby Trend customer service at 1-909-773-0018.

 

 

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Mikesell’s recalls nacho cheese tortilla chips

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

Mikesell's Potato Chip Company is recalling its nacho cheese tortilla chips that have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.No illnesses hav...

PhotoMikesell's Potato Chip Company is recalling its nacho cheese tortilla chips that have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recalled product, which comes in a 2.25-oz. package marked with UPC # 071104005543 on the back and with a sell by date of FEB0216, FEB1617 stamped on the upper right corner, was distributed in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois.

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled product should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-937-228-9400 Monday-Thursday 8:00 am till 5:00 pm (EST).

 

 

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BMW recalls model year 2016 X5 xDrive40e vehicles

The vehicle could unexpectedly shift to neutral

BMW of North America is recalling eight model year 2016 X5 xDrive40e vehicles manufactured July 29, 2015, to September 9, 2015.The recalled vehicles ha...

PhotoBMW of North America is recalling eight model year 2016 X5 xDrive40e vehicles manufactured July 29, 2015, to September 9, 2015.

The recalled vehicles have a Digital Motor Electronic (DME) control unit that may have a loose electrical ground cable, possibly causing an under-voltage condition which would result in the transmission shifting to neutral.

If the vehicle unexpectedly shifts to neutral, there would be an increased risk of a crash.

What to do

BMW will notify owners, and dealers will tighten the ground cable, free of charge.

The recall is expected to begin February 6, 2017. Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

 

 

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How much it costs to raise a child per year

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10 good credit card choices for 2017

From travel to cash back, these cards can be rewarding

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Fitbit reportedly considering an app store

Company may seek to expand its influence with software as well as hardware

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Used car buyers drawn to pickup trucks in 2016

CarGurus reports low gas prices have lessened interest in small sedans

If you are in the market for a used car, or have one you want to sell, it might be helpful to know which cars consumers want most and which ones don't get...

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BMW recalls variety of vehicles with airbag inflator issue

The seat-mounted air bag may not deploy, increasing the risk of injury

BMW of North America is recalling 3,506 model year 2017 BMW 640i, 640i xDrive, 650i, 650i xDrive, M6, 535i, 535i xDrive, 430i, 430i xDrive, 440i, 440i xDri...

PhotoBMW of North America is recalling 3,506 model year 2017 BMW 640i, 640i xDrive, 650i, 650i xDrive, M6, 535i, 535i xDrive, 430i, 430i xDrive, 440i, 440i xDrive, M4, X1 sDrive28i, X1 xDrive28i, i3, i8, Rolls-Royce Dawn, Mini Clubman Cooper, Clubman Cooper S, Cooper All4, Cooper S All4, Mini 4-Door Cooper, Cooper S, Mini 2-Door Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and 2016 BMW 528i, 528i xDrive, 535i, 535i xDrive, 550i, 550i xDrive, M5 and 535d vehicles.

The recalled vehicles have seat-mounted side airbag inflator initiators that may fail to ignite during a crash.

If the air bag inflator initiator fails to ignite, the seat-mounted air bag will not deploy, increasing the risk of injury.

What to do

BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the air bag modules, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin February 6, 2017.

Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

 

 

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Toyota recalls model year 2017 Toyota 86 vehicles

It may be possible to remove the ignition key without the transmission being in the "Park" position

Toyota Motor Company is recalling 94 model year 2017 Toyota 86 vehicles manufactured July 1, 2016 through August 11, 2016 equipped with an automatic transm...

PhotoToyota Motor Company is recalling 94 model year 2017 Toyota 86 vehicles manufactured July 1, 2016 through August 11, 2016 equipped with an automatic transmission and ignition key.

Vehicles with a push-to-start button or manual transmission are not affected.

It may be possible to remove the ignition key without the transmission being in the "Park" position. As such, these vehicles fail to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 114, "Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention."

If the key can be removed from the ignition when the transmission is not in the "Park" position, the vehicle could roll away increasing the risk of a crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries.

What to do

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the ignition key/transmission interlock wiring connections, correcting them as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in January 2017.

Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331. Toyota's number for this recall is G0E.

 

 

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Route 11 recalls sour cream & chive flavored potato chips

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella

Route 11 Potato Chips is recalling its Sour Cream & Chive Potato Chips in 2-oz. and 6-oz bags, produced with best by dates from February 2 – June 10, 2017....

PhotoRoute 11 Potato Chips is recalling its Sour Cream & Chive Potato Chips in 2-oz. and 6-oz bags, produced with best by dates from February 2 – June 10, 2017.

The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with this product to date.

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled product should return it to the store where purchased it for a full refund.

 

 

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Ford recalls F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks

The fuel tank strap may separate from the frame

Ford Motor Company recalling 7,105 model year 2017 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks manufactured August 10, 2016, to September 17, 2016.The frame rein...

PhotoFord Motor Company recalling 7,105 model year 2017 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks manufactured August 10, 2016, to September 17, 2016.

The frame reinforcement bracket may not have been attached to the front fuel tank strap, allowing the fuel tank strap to separate from the frame.

A fuel tank strap that separates and allows the fuel tank to contact the ground may cause a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire.

What to do

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and, if necessary, install the reinforcement bracket, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin February 6, 2017.

Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 16S45.

 

 

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Feds & NY challenge Prevagen, which claims to improve memory in seniors

"Clear-cut fraud, from the label on the bottle to the ads," NY attorney general argues

The Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman have sued dietary supplement maker Quincy Bioscience, LLC, charging that it...

PhotoThe Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman have sued dietary supplement maker Quincy Bioscience, LLC, charging that it deceptively markets the widely-sold supplement Prevagen by falsely claiming that it improves memory, despite lacking reliable scientific evidence.

“The marketing for Prevagen is a clear-cut fraud, from the label on the bottle to the ads airing across the country,” said Schneiderman. “It’s particularly unacceptable that this company has targeted vulnerable citizens like seniors in its advertising for a product that costs more than a week’s groceries, but provides none of the health benefits that it claims. Quincy Bioscience must be held accountable for deliberately misleading consumers across the country.”

Quincy Bioscience said it "vehemently disagrees" with the allegations and said the case was "another example of government overreach and regulators extinguishing innovation by imposing arbitrary new rules on small businesses like ours."

“Prevagen is safe. Neither the FTC nor the New York Attorney General has alleged that Prevagen can cause or has caused harm to anyone. And hundreds of thousands people tell us it works and improves their lives," the company's statement said. 

Prevagen, which can cost up to $69 per bottle, is sold at major retailers and pharmacies across the country, including CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, the Vitamin Shoppe, and Amazon. Sales of Prevagen in the United States from 2007 through mid-2015, minus refunds, totaled $165 million.

"Clearer thinking"

In its advertising and product labeling, Quincy Bioscience claims that Prevagen is “clinically shown” to support “clearer thinking” and to “improve memory within 90 days” – yet, the primary support Quincy Bioscience has for these claims is a single study that failed to show a statistically significant improvement in the treatment group over the placebo group on any of the cognitive measures used, Schneiderman said.

Quincy Bioscience developed and marketed Prevagen on the theory that its active ingredient, apoaequorin, a dietary protein, enters the human brain to supplement proteins that are lost during the natural aging process. Yet the complaint charges that Quincy Bioscience lacks any studies showing that this orally-administered protein can cross the human blood brain barrier, and in fact, Quincy’s own studies show that the protein is rapidly digested in the stomach and broken down into amino acids like any other dietary protein.

“The marketers of Prevagen preyed on the fears of older consumers experiencing age-related memory loss,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Yet despite the defendants’ claims, there is no scientific proof that use of the product will improve memory or provide any other cognitive benefit.”

In its statement, which was not attributed to any specific individual, Quincy insisted its product works as claimed.

“Quincy has amassed a large body of evidence that Prevagen improves memory and supports healthy brain function. This evidence includes preclinical rat studies, canine studies, human clinical studies, and, most importantly, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical testing. This type of testing has long been acknowledged by both the FTC and the FDA to be the ‘gold standard’ for scientific evidence.

The lawsit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and seeks a ban on further false claims about Prevagen, restitution for consumers, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties for violations of state law. 

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Federal study raises concerns for people who manufacture BPA

While all Americans have BPA in their bodies, workers who produce the chemical contain unusually high levels

Research has shown that a chemical called Bisphenol A, used to make hard plastics and the resin linings of canned foods, is present in the bloodstream of m...

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Subaru's multimedia system gets eight new apps

There's an app for bird lovers, as well as one that tells users how to improve their driving

Subaru has updated its Starlink infotainment system to include eight new apps, including one of potential interest to birdwatchers. Drivers can see inf...

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Mars buys VCA veterinary chain

VCA rounds out Mars' portfolio in pet care, pet food and pet technology

Pets are big business. As evidence, candy- and pet-food-maker Mars Inc. is paying $9.1 billion to buy VCA Inc., the animal hospital chain that runs general...

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iPhone introduced 10 years ago today

Device arguably changed how humans interact

“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said on January 9, 2007.In a presentation to the Apple faithful, Jobs procee...

Photo“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said on January 9, 2007.

In a presentation to the Apple faithful, Jobs proceeded to introduce a new mobile phone that not only turned an industry upside down, but changed how human beings interact with one another.

In the 10 years since Apple's introduction of the iPhone, smartphones have been used less for talking and more for communicating on social media, buying things online, getting directions and watching TV. In other words, they have become computers in our pockets. Chances are, you're reading this on one.

It was a vision that Jobs, who died of cancer in 2011, laid out in the presentation below.

Exclusive to AT&T

Apple partnered with AT&T in the development of the iPhone and for several years, AT&T was the exclusive carrier for the device.

In his presentation Jobs mentioned that Apple had patented its revolutionary design, expressing confidence that the smartphone future belonged to Apple. But after Google's Android operating system appeared and was adopted by many electronics manufacturers, a protracted legal battle ensued. In the end, Apple found that it had to share the smartphone space.

According to Statista, there are approximately 215 million smartphone users in the U.S., with the number estimated to reach 222.9 million this year. The number of users worldwide is projected to reach 2 billion by the end of this year.

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Gold Medal Packing recalls veal products

The products may be contaminated with E. coli O26 and O45

Gold Medal Packing of Rome, N.Y., is recalling approximately 4,607 pounds of boneless veal products that may be contaminated with E. coli O26 and O45.T...

PhotoGold Medal Packing of Rome, N.Y., is recalling approximately 4,607 pounds of boneless veal products that may be contaminated with E. coli O26 and O45.

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

The following products, produced and packaged between August 16, 2016, and October 25, 2016, are being recalled:

  • 60-lb. boxes containing “BONELESS VEAL”.
  • 2,387-lb. bin containing “TBS”.
  • 10-lb. boxes containing “HEARTLAND VEAL BONELESS LEG CUTLET”.
  • 10-lb. boxes containing “VEAL BONELESS LEG CUTLET”.
  • 10-lb. boxes containing “VEAL BONELESS LEG TOP ROUND CUTLET”.

The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 17965” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distributor locations nationwide.

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 Dave Anguzza, Operations Manager, at (315) 337-1911, ext. 3.

 

 

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TreeHouse Foods amends “best by” dates in mac & cheese recall

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

TreeHouse Foods is amending the “best by” dates used in its December 2016, recall of macaroni and cheese cup products.The products contain cheddar chee...

PhotoTreeHouse Foods is amending the “best by” dates used in its December 2016, recall of macaroni and cheese cup products.

The products contain cheddar cheese seasoning that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

There have been no confirmed illnesses to date.

The following list contains the products being recalled with their amended “best by” dates:

DescriptionUPCBest By Date
Big Win Original Macaroni & Cheese Dinner00118225840310/24/2017
10/25/2017
Cheese Club Express Mac Macaroni & Cheese
Dinner
00414981716710/20/2017
10/21/2017
10/22/2017
10/23/2017
10/28/2017
10/29/2017
10/31/2017
11/1/2017
11/2/2017
11/3/2017
11/4/2017
11/10/2017
11/11/2017
11/16/2017
11/17/2017
11/18/2017
11/21/2017
11/22/2017
11/23/2017
11/28/2017
Great Value Macaroni & Cheese Original Cups00787420824910/18/2017
10/19/2017
10/21/2017
10/22/2017
10/26/2017
10/27/2017
10/28/2017
11/3/2017
11/6/2017
11/7/2017
11/17/2017
11/18/2017
11/19/2017
11/20/2017
11/21/2017
11/22/2017

 

What to do

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

Consumers with questions may call 1-800-756-5781, Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m.– 6:00 p.m. (CST).

 

 

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Southeastern Mills recalls food ingredients and mixes

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

Southeastern Mills is recalling Southeastern Mills Biscuit Gravy Mix, Southeastern Mills Country Biscuit Mix, Southeastern Mills Buttermilk Drop Biscuit Mi...

PhotoSoutheastern Mills is recalling Southeastern Mills Biscuit Gravy Mix, Southeastern Mills Country Biscuit Mix, Southeastern Mills Buttermilk Drop Biscuit Mix, Southeastern Mills Easy Drop Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuit Mix Shore Lunch Original Breading and Shore Lunch Cajun Style Breading.

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The following products, sold by Southeastern Mills to other food manufacturers and further processed into finished foods sold in various food distribution channels, are being recalled:

Brand and Product NameSize>UPCBest By Date
Southeastern Mills Biscuit Gravy 
Mix
4.5 oz.0-70292-15326-56/10/17 
7/12/17 
5/17/17
Southeastern Mills Country 
Biscuit Mix
6 oz.0-70292-15157-59/28/17 
8/9/17
Southeastern Mills Biscuit Gravy 
Mix
2.75 oz.0-70292-16154-35/19/17
Southeastern Mills Buttermilk 
Drop Biscuit Mix
7.4 oz.0-70292-18356-98/16/17
Southeastern Mills Easy Drop 
Cheddar Garlic Biscuit Mix
7 oz.0-70292-17840-410/11/17 
8/23/17 
8/30/17 
8/8/17 
7/26/17 
8/12/17 
9/2/17
Shore Lunch Original Recipe 
Breading Mix
9 oz.0-24739-11000-71/27/18 
2/3/18 
12/27/17 
2/22/18 
1/13/18 
1/20/18 
4/18/18 
1/19/18
Shore Lunch Cajun Style 
Breading Mix
9 oz.0-24739-15000-31/28/18 
12/15/17 
1/22/18 
12/20/17

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled products should discontinue using them and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-334-4468, 8 am - 5 pm (EST) daily or by e-mail at fda@semills.com.

 

 

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Volkswagen recalls various vehicles with braking issue

The Antilock Brake System control unit may fail

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 135,683 model year 2009-2010 Volkswagen Jetta A5 Sedans, 2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagens, Eos, GTI, Rabbit and A...

PhotoVolkswagen Group of America is recalling 135,683 model year 2009-2010 Volkswagen Jetta A5 Sedans, 2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagens, Eos, GTI, Rabbit and Audi A3 vehicles, and 2010 Volkswagen Golf A6 vehicles.

The Antilock Brake System (ABS) control unit may fail during ABS or Electronic Stability Control (ESC) activation, possibly causing a loss of vehicle control and increasing the risk of a crash.

What to do

Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will update the ABS control module software to improve the module's self-testing abilities. Any module that fails the new diagnostic test will be replaced. These repairs will be made free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provide a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298.

 

 

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Herr Foods recalls potato chip products

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

Herr Foods is recalling Smoked Chipotle flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips and Smoke Dried Chipotle flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips sold under the Ped...

PhotoHerr Foods is recalling Smoked Chipotle flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips and Smoke Dried Chipotle flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips sold under the Peddler’s Pantry brand.

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

No illnesses have been reported.

The following products, distributed nationwide through grocery and other retail stores, are being recalled:

BRANDDESCRIPTIONSIZEUPCBest by Dates
HERR’SSmoked Chipotle Kettle Cooked Potato Chips2.625 oz.72600 03339November 13, 2016 thru March 27, 2017
HERR’SSmoked Chipotle Kettle Cooked Potato Chips8.0 oz.72600 03420November 26, 2016 thrunApril 24, 2017
PEDDLER’S PANTRYSmoke Dried Chipotle Kettle Cooked Potato Chips2.0 oz.72600 07789December 25, 2016 thru March 27, 2017

The products are packaged in gold, white and brown metalized bags, with the lot number on the front of the package in the upper right hand corner and the UPC number on the lower right hand corner of the back panel of the package.

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 call 1-800-523-5030 from 9am- 5pm (EST) Monday through Friday.

 

 

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Mercedes-Benz recalls model year 2015-2016 vehicles with axle issue

Front or rear axle bolts could fracture

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 48 model year 2015 GL350 4Matic Blutec, GL450 4Matic, GL550 4Matic, ML250 Blutec, ML350, ML350 4Matic, ML400 4Matic;...

PhotoMercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 48 model year 2015 GL350 4Matic Blutec, GL450 4Matic, GL550 4Matic, ML250 Blutec, ML350, ML350 4Matic, ML400 4Matic; and 2015-2016 GL63 AMG 4Matic vehicles manufactured September 29, 2014 through March 27, 2015.

The axle bolts on the front and/or rear drive axle carriers may not have been assembled correctly. As a result, the remaining bolts may fracture.

If any of the remaining front or rear axle bolts fracture, the vehicle may be unstable, reducing the handling capability and increasing the risk of a crash.

What to do

MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the axle carrier bolts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in February 2017.

Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

 

 

 

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Telecommunications providers the worst, often adding 25% to the stated price

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Nearly all card networks provide some type of extended return benefit

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Lawsuit: Sugary sodas no laughing matter

Coca-Cola commercials downplay health risks, the suit charges

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Another month of growth for the services sector

A dozen industries reported expansion in December

The non-manufacturing, or service-providing, sector of the economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month in December.According to the latest Non-Manufact...

PhotoThe non-manufacturing, or service-providing, sector of the economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month in December.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management's report on business, the non-manufacturing index registered 57.2% in December, the same as November.

Fifty percent is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index inched down 0.3% to 61.4%, but still was a reflection of growth for the 89th consecutive month. The New Orders Index rose 4.6% to 61.6%, while the Employment Index registered 53.8%, a loss of 4.4% from November.

The Prices Index was up 0.7% to 57.0%, indicating prices increased in December for the ninth consecutive month at a slightly faster rate.

How they did

The following 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in December:

  1. Mining;
  2. Retail Trade;
  3. Finance & Insurance;
  4. Information;
  5. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  6. Construction;
  7. Other Services;
  8. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  9. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  10. Utilities;
  11. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  12. Accommodation & Food Services.

Three industries reported contraction:

  1. Public Administration;
  2. Wholesale Trade; and
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

 

 

More

Mercedes-Benz recalls model year 2014 CLA250 vehicles

Increased force may be needed to apply the brakes

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling ten model year 2014 CLA250 vehicles manufactured December 14, 2012, to April 24, 2013 and equipped with gasoline eng...

PhotoMercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling ten model year 2014 CLA250 vehicles manufactured December 14, 2012, to April 24, 2013 and equipped with gasoline engines.

The vehicles have a fitting that connects the vacuum line to the brake booster which may break causing increased force to be needed to apply the brakes.

If the vehicles unexpectedly need increased pressure on the brake pedal to apply the brakes, there would be an increased risk of a crash.

What to do

MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the connector end fitting at the brake booster, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in February 2017.

Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

 

 

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House-Autry Mills recalls baking products

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

House-Autry Mills is recalling limited quantities of House- Autry Buttermilk Cornbread Mix, House-Autry Buttermilk Biscuit Mix, and House-Autry Cheese Bisc...

PhotoHouse-Autry Mills is recalling limited quantities of House- Autry Buttermilk Cornbread Mix, House-Autry Buttermilk Biscuit Mix, and House-Autry Cheese Biscuit Mix.

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The following products are being recalled:

Product NameUPC NumberIdentifying Code
House-Autry Buttermilk Cornbread Mix 
- 8 oz. box
0 73484-15500 9Best By 06/28/17 096216 (located on the top fold)
Best By 07/19/17 097106 (located on the top fold)
House-Autry Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
- 8 oz. box
0 73484-15510 8Best By 05/18/17 094782 (located on the top fold)
Best By 07/19/17 097105 (located on the top fold)
House-Autry Cheese Biscuit Mix
- 8 oz. box
0 73484-15512 2Best By 08/03/17 097754 (located on the top fold)

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled should discontinue using them and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-849-0802, 8am-5pm (EST) daily, or by email at Retail@House-Autry.com.

 

 

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Unemployment rate edges higher in December

Job creation during the month came in below expectations

The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% in December from November's 4.6% as the economy created 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs -- well short of the...

PhotoThe nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% in December from November's 4.6% as the economy created 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs -- well short of the Briefing.com consensus estimate of 175,000.

According to figures released by the Labor Department (DOL), health care (+43,000) and social assistance (+20,000) accounted for a good chunk of last months employment gains. Advances were also seen in employment at food services and drinking places(+30,000), transportation and warehousing (+15,000) and financial activities (+13,000).

Other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information and government, registered little or no change in December.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.4%), adult women (4.3%), teenagers (14.7%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (7.8%, Asians (2.6%), and Hispanics (5.9%) were fairly steady last month.

The labor force participation rate showed little change at 62.7% and unchanged for ll of 2016. The employment-population ratio was 59.7% for the third straight month in December and has registered little net change for the year as a whole.

Hours and wages

The average workweek was unchanged last month at 34.3 hours. But it edged up 0.1 hour in manufacturing to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees went up a dime in December to $26.00, after falling 2 cents a month earlier.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

 

 

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4G Meat Processing recalls Italian sausage product

The products contain Monosodium Glutamate, which is not declared on the label

4G Meat Processing of Kansas City, Mo., is recalling approximately 1,288 pounds of pork and turkey Caldarello Italian sausage rope products.The product...

Photo4G Meat Processing of Kansas City, Mo., is recalling approximately 1,288 pounds of pork and turkey Caldarello Italian sausage rope products.

The products contain Monosodium Glutamate which is not declared on the label. Additionally, the label does not contain an ingredients statement or safe handling instructions.

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

The following products, produced from June 28, 2016, to December 20, 2016, are being recalled:

  • 8 pound cases containing 1 pound cryovac wrapped packages of Caldarello Italian Sausage with a case code of 335000
  • 8 pound cases containing 1 pound cryovac wrapped packaged of Caldarello Italian Turkey Sausage with a case code of 437800.

The recalled products bearing establishment number “EST. 7147” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to a distributor and retail locations in Missouri.

What to do

Consumers with questions about the recall may contact Brandon Nichols at (816) 241-4707.

 

 

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Complaints mount over dicamba-based herbicide sprays

Food growers say that a newer strain of genetically modified seeds is hurting their businesses

When Monsanto announced its plans to introduce a new strain of herbicide-resistant soybean seeds and cotton seeds and a new type of herbicide to accompany...

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Sears closing 150 more Sears, Kmart stores

Company is also spinning off Craftsman Tools line

On the heels of Macy's announcement that it is closing 68 stores, Sears Holdings says it will shutter 150 unprofitable locations. Targeted for closing are...

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Apple goes along with censors -- blocks New York Times app in China

Fake news is fine but real news -- well, only if the government approves

There's been a lot of hand-wringing about the problem of "fake news" and the role of online sites in promoting it. But the other side of the coin is the ro...

PhotoThere's been a lot of hand-wringing about the problem of "fake news" and the role of online sites in promoting it. But the other side of the coin is the role of online sites in suppressing real news. Case in point: Apple has removed the New York Times app from its China store.

Why would Apple, an American company, want to help an authoritarian regime censor America's premier daily newspaper? The answer is simple: because the Chinese government asked it to.

The Times' websites have been blocked in China since 2012, when the paper published a report that detailed the wealth of China's ruling families. Apple's willing removal of the app was in response to a statement by China's government that the app "violated local regulations."

Just what those regulations might be wasn't specified and Apple isn't saying. All it offers is a promise to reconsider "when the situation changes."

Real news fights back

The Times has asked Apple to reconsider its decision, company spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said. “The request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by the New York Times of that country—coverage which is no different from the journalism we do about every other country in the world, including the United States.”

The Time is not the only target of China's wrath. Many Western news organizations have faced various difficulties in China, as they do in other dictatorships and authoritarian countries. 

The difference between real news organizations and fake ones -- those that simply repurpose the work of others -- is that real news organizations fight back. 

 

 

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US Postal Service ends its deal with Staples

Postal workers union had protested the deal and boycotted Staples for years

Staples is getting out of the post office business, though not willingly. After years of protests by postal workers, the U.S. Postal Service is ending the...

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Despite optimism, consumers just want to get out of debt

In a poll, 80% of consumers say getting out of debt is more important than saving money

When you ask consumers what their top five financial goals are, usually “saving money” and “paying down debt” are among them.This year, after what may...

PhotoWhen you ask consumers what their top five financial goals are, usually “saving money” and “paying down debt” are among them.

This year, after what may have been a very robust season of holiday spending and rising consumer confidence, an online poll shows that getting out of debt is far-and-away the top priority among consumers.

The end-of-the-year poll conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)shows 80% of respondents picked “paying down debt” as a top goal to start 2017.

Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the NFCC, says he isn't surprised.

“It’s a sobering moment when the credit card bill arrives in January and reveals a mountain of debt fueled by holiday spending,” McClary said. “January is a good time for planning to get debt under control before it becomes unmanageable.”

Debt can quickly mount

And that can quickly happen. If you start January with a balance of $1,000 but only pay $150 of it, then add $500 in spending the following month, you've suddenly got a balance of $1,350 – plus monthly interest charges.

McClary says consumers facing mounting debt in January shouldn't panic, but should also realize that it will take some time and effort to bring that balance back to zero.

Here are some things to do to begin to shrink that credit card balance:

Look at the details of each debt. That means drilling down through balances, transactions, interest, fees, terms and conditions. Try to identify the debt that is growing fastest.

Not all debts are equal

Prioritize. Place the most attention on the credit accounts with the highest interest rates. If you can speed up the payment process on these accounts, it will save money that can be allocated to other debts. Remember that high interest rates and lengthy repayment schedules are a costly combination.

There is always hope. Even if you think there is no extra money in your budget to apply to debt repayment, reach out to trusted sources. Your lender may be able to make some accommodation. A non-profit credit counselor may be able to provide helpful guidance.

Avoid so-called debt settlement companies that promise they can settle your debt for pennies on the dollar, as long as you pay an advance fee.

It's also helpful to remember that repaying debt is a marathon, not a sprint. It might not have taken very long to run up that huge credit card bill, but unless you win the lottery, it's going to take a while to pay it down.

That's the toxic element of debt. When you borrow against the future to spend today, you are in essence reducing tomorrow's income. Future income will not only have to cover current expenses, but pay back what you spent in the past.

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ADP reports modest job gains for December

The initial jobless claims streak continued last week

Photo (c) Stuart Miles - FotoliaThe economy cranked out another 153,000 private sector jobs last month, according to the ADP National Employment Repo...

Photo
Photo (c) Stuart Miles - Fotolia

The economy cranked out another 153,000 private sector jobs last month, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

The report, produced by the ADP Research Institute and Moody's Analytics, shows the bulk of the new payroll positions were created by medium-sized business (+71,000) followed by large firms (+63,000) and small companies (+18,000).

“Job growth remains strong but is slowing,” noted Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The gap between employment growth in the service economy and losses on the goods side persists. Smaller companies are struggling to maintain payrolls while large companies are expanding at a healthy pace.”

The goods-producing sector actually lost jobs in December – 16,000 of them led by manufacturing with a loss of 9,000 payroll positions.

The services-providing added 169,000 jobs, thanks to areas including trade/transportation/utilities (+82,000), education/health services (+29,000), health care/social assistance (+26,000) and professional/business services (+24,000).

"As we exit 2016, it's interesting to note that the private sector generated an average of 174,000 jobs per month, down from 209,000 in 2015," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "And while job gains in December were slightly below our monthly average, the U.S. labor market has experienced unprecedented seven years of growth that has brought us to near full employment. As we enter 2017, the tightening labor market will likely slow the growth."

Photo
Photo (c) designer491 - Fotolia

Jobless claims

The number of initial jobless claims filed last week remained below the 300,000 level for a 96th consecutive week -- the longest streak since 1970.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports there were 235,000 initial applications for state unemployment benefits filed in the week ending December 31 -- down 28,000 from the previous week.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at was 256,750 -- a drop of 5,750 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

 

 

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Job cuts shoot higher in December

Terminations during of all of 2016 came in on the low side

U.S.-based employers whacked away at their workforces in December -- announcing plans to cut 33,627 jobs, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger,...

PhotoU.S.-based employers whacked away at their workforces in December -- announcing plans to cut 33,627 jobs, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

While that's up 25% from the previous month, it was well below the 43,910 job cuts averaged monthly throughout the year.

For all of 2016, employers announced they were removing 526,915 workers from their payrolls -- 12% fewer than in 2015 and below the 539,581 annual job cuts averaged since 2010.

Where the cuts came

The heaviest job cuts last year were in the energy sector, where 107,714 people found themselves out of work. Cuts also were up in the computer industry, which trimmed payrolls by 66,821 positions.

Rounding out the top five job-cutting industries of the year were retail (59,324), industrial goods (33,435), and financial (22,015).

“Last year appeared to be an adjustment year for many big tech firms,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Long-time hardware makers, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, are undergoing multi-year transformations that will ultimately shift their business away from hardware toward services. Others, including Microsoft, Dell and Intel, are shifting toward mobile while, at the same time, attempting to become more agile.”

Challenger also noted that it's hard to say how the tech sector will do under the incoming Trump administration. “Many rely on offshoring as well as the employment of foreign talent immigrating to the U.S.,” he pointed out, adding that “both of those business practices are likely to come under threat in the coming year. However, the new administration’s pro-business policies may ultimately favor these firms and many others. Only time will tell.” 

 

 

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Bickel's recalls various snack foods

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

Bickel's Snack Foods of York, Pa., is recalling a variety of snack products.The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.No illnesses have been...

PhotoBickel's Snack Foods of York, Pa., is recalling a variety of snack products.

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

No illnesses have been reported.

The following products are being recalled:

Bon Ton- Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 2.75 oz UPC: 7004000224   Best by Between: 12/26/16-3/20/17  Manufactured Between: 9/20/16-12/14/16

Seyfert-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 2 oz       UPC: 7593996049   Best by Between: 12/19/16-3/20/17   Manufactured Between: 9/14/16-12/14/16

Seyfert-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 5 oz       UPC: 7593905103   Best by: 1/2/17 Manufactured:  9/28/16

Seyfert-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 8.5 oz     UPC: 7593905033  Best by Between: 12/19/16-3/20/17 Manufactured  Between: 9/14/16-12/14/16

Bickel's- Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: .75 oz     UPC: 7148700930  Best by Between:   12/19/16-3/13/17 Manufactured Between: 9/14/16-12/7/16

Bickel's-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size:  2 oz      UPC: 7148700602     Best by Between: 1/16/17-3/6/17          Manufactured  Between: 10/12/16-11/30/16

Bickel's-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size:  7 oz      UPC: 7148721020      Best by Between:   1/2/17-3/6/17          Manufactured  Between: 9/28/16-11/30/16

Bickel's-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 8.5oz      UPC: 7148711030      Best by Between: 1/2/17-3/13/17           Manufactured  Between: 9/28/16-12/7/16

Bon Ton-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 1.5 oz    UPC: 7004004132 Best by:   1/9/17       Manufactured:  10/5/16

Troyer-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size:  2 oz       UPC: 7017500019   Best by Between:  12/19/16-3/13/17        Manufactured Between: 9/14/16-12/7/16

Dan Dee-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size:  7/8 oz   UPC: 3720000014     Best by Between: 12/19/16-2/20/17 Manufactured Between: 9/14/16-11/17/16

Dan Dee-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size:  2 oz       UPC: 3720000476  Best by Between: 12/19/16-3/20/17  Manufactured Between: 9/14/16-12/14/16

Dan Dee-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 8.5 oz      UPC: 3720000504      Best by Between:  1/9/17-3/20/17        Manufactured Between: 10/5/16-12/14/16

Troyer-Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips 
Size: 8.5 oz      UPC: 7017500060      Best by Between:  1/9/17-3/20/17        Manufactured Between: 10/4/16-12/13/16

Cabana-Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips 
Size: 5 oz        UPC: 7277901085      Best by Between: 3/6/17-4/24/17          Manufactured Between: 9/20/16-11/9/16

Key Foods-Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips 
Size: 6 Oz         UPC:  73296216671   Best by Between: 12/26/16-3/13/17 Manufactured Between: 9/20/16-12/7/16

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of them immediately.

Consumers with questions may contact Bickel's toll free at 1-800-888-4646 Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm. (EST).

 

 

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Mercedes-Benz USA recalls vehicles with airbag issue

The front passenger airbag may not deploy in the event of a crash

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 47,799 model year 2016-2017 GL350 4Matic Bluetec, GL550 4Matic, GLE350 4Matic, GLE43 AMG Coupe, GLE450 4Matic, 2016...

PhotoMercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 47,799 model year 2016-2017 GL350 4Matic Bluetec, GL550 4Matic, GLE350 4Matic, GLE43 AMG Coupe, GLE450 4Matic, 2016 GLE300d 4Matic, GLE350, GLE350d 4Matic, GLE400 4Matic, GLE550e 4Matic, GLE63 AMG, GLE63 AMG 4Matic, GLE63S AMG 4Matic Coupe;, and 2017 GLS63 AMG vehicles manufactured April 23, 2014, to May 10, 2016.

The front passenger seat Occupant Classification System (OCS) calibration may be incorrect, and as a result, the system can incorrectly classify the occupant as a child seat, deactivating the front passenger airbag.

If the front passenger airbag does not deploy as necessary in the event of a crash, the front passenger has an increased risk of injury.

What to do

MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will update the OCS software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in January 2017.

Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.

 

 

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Polaris recalls Sportsman 570 ATVs

The vehicle may present a fire hazard

Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 9,900 Sportsman 570 all-terrain vehicles that may present a fire hazard.The company has receive...

PhotoPolaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 9,900 Sportsman 570 all-terrain vehicles that may present a fire hazard.

The company has received 35 reports of damaged fuel rails and leaks. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves model year 2014 through 2016 Sportsman 570 Touring and X2 model ATVs and model year 2017 Sportsman 570 6x6 model ATVs. The recalled ATVs have one or two seats with four or six tires. “Sportsman” and the model type are printed on the side of the steering column and “Polaris” is printed near the front grill. The ATVs were sold in several colors.

The vehicle identification numbers (VIN) are printed on the front or rear frame near the back tire. 

The following vehicles are being recalled:

 

Polaris 2014 - 2017 Sportsman 570 Touring, 6x6, X2

Model Year

Model Number

Model

Price

2014

A14DH57AA

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 EFI SAGE GREEN

 $           7,700.00

2014

A14DH57AJ

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 EFI BRIGHT WHITE

 $           7,700.00

2015

A15SDA57AA

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 SAGE GREEN

 $           7,800.00

2015

A15SDE57AJ

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 EPS BRIGHT WHITE

 $           8,700.00

2015

A15SJE57AS

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 SP SUNSET RED

 $           9,400.00

2015

A15SJE57AV

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 SP BLUE FIRE

 $           9,400.00

2015

A15SWE57AA

SPORTSMAN X2 570 EPS SAGE GREEN

 $           9,700.00

2015

A15SWE57AD

SPORTSMAN X2 570 EPS INDY RED

 $           9,700.00

2016

A16SDA57A1

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 SAGE GREEN

 $           7,800.00

2016

A16SDE57A2

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 EPS BRIGHT WHITE

 $           8,700.00

2016

A16SJE57AB

SPORTSMAN TOURING 570 SP BLUE FIRE

 $           9,400.00

2016

A16SWE57A1

SPORTSMAN X2 570 EPS SAGE GREEN

 $           9,700.00

2016

A16SWE57A7

SPORTSMAN X2 570 EPS INDY RED

 $           9,700.00

2017

A17S6E57A1

SPORTSMAN 6X6 570 EPS SAGE GREEN

 $         11,000.00

The ATVs, manufactured in the U.S. and Mexico, were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from May 2013, through December 2016, for between $7,700 and $11,000.

What to do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ATVs 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” at the bottom of the page for more information.

 

 

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Dawn Food Products recalls bulk bakery mix products

The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

Dawn Food Products of Jackson, Mississippi, is recalling limited quantities of bakery mix products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.The followi...

PhotoDawn Food Products of Jackson, Mississippi, is recalling limited quantities of bakery mix products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The following items, sold at retail locations, are being recalled:

Product # - 00727521 R&H Speedy Crème Instant Pudding and Pie Filling Mix 6 bags 4 lb 2 oz
Lot Numbers614171306141713161587135615871366165713062327131
62327132625671016256710262567103625671046281713162817132
Product # - 00257857 R&H Speedy Crème Instant Pudding and Pie Filling 6 bags 4 lb 2 oz
Lot Numbers616571346165713561657132616571336256710562567106
62567107625671086281713362817134

The products were produced from May 19, 2016, through October 5, 2016.

What to do

Customers who purchased these products should return them to the place of purchase for proper credit.

 

 

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Model year 2016 Buick Envisions recalled

The master cylinder brake lines may crack and leak brake fluid

General Motors is recalling 327 model year 2016 Buick Envisions manufactured January 19, 2016, to March 18, 2016.The master cylinder brake lines may cr...

PhotoGeneral Motors is recalling 327 model year 2016 Buick Envisions manufactured January 19, 2016, to March 18, 2016.

The master cylinder brake lines may crack and leak brake fluid, which could reduce braking performance and increase the risk of a crash.

What to do

GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the master cylinder brake lines, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Buick customer service at 1-800-521-7300. GM's number for this recall is 16169.

 

 

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Fresh Express recalls Hearts of Romaine Salad

The product may contain egg, milk, wheat and anchovy, allergens not declared on the label

Fresh Express is recalling 100 cases of 9-oz. Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine Salad.The product may contain egg, milk, wheat and anchovy, allergens not...

PhotoFresh Express is recalling 100 cases of 9-oz. Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine Salad.

The product may contain egg, milk, wheat and anchovy, allergens not declared on the label.

No illnesses are reported.

The following product, distributed in Maryland, is being recalled:

BRANDPRODUCT NAMESIZEUPCPRODUCTION CODEBEST IF USED BY DATEPOSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION STATES
Fresh ExpressHearts of Romaine Salad9 oz.0 71279 26102 7H34711A, H34711B27-DecMD

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. – 7 p.m. (ET).

 

 

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