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Treasury announces debit card option

More than 4 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients who do not have bank accounts will now have the option of getting a prepaid MasterCard debit card with their benefits instead of a paper check.

Changing from a paper check to a debit card means those without bank accounts will not have to use expensive check cashing facilities or carry around large amounts of cash, the Treasury Department said Monday.

Each FDIC-insured card will have its own PIN for use at ATMs and in stores. New York

Index of pending home sales shows bounce

Pending home sales unexpectedly rose in April to the highest reading since October, an industry group said Monday, but experts say the large proportion of distressed property sales will continue to weigh down prices.

The National Association of Realtors’ seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes rose to 88.2 from a March reading of 83.0. A reading of 100 is equal to the average level of sales activity in 2001, the year the index was started.

Said Global Insight economist Patrick Newport: “It’s good news, but I’m not jumping for joy because I’m not convinced that it’s telling us things are picking up. It’s telling me that banks are dumping properties at fire sale prices, spurring home sales.”


Outbreak pushes tomatoes from menus, stores

McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and other chains have halted sales of some raw tomatoes as federal health officials work to trace the source of a salmonella outbreak.

Burger King, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Bell were among other restaurants voluntarily withdrawing tomatoes from their menus, following federal recommendations that consumers avoid red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes unless they were grown in certain states and countries.

The source of the tomatoes responsible for the illnesses in at least 16 states has not been pinpointed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said at least 23 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.


Airlines drop increase in weekend fares

A number of major airlines rolled back a weekend fare increase Monday, the first time in more than half a dozen attempts that a widespread price hike failed to take hold across the struggling industry.

Carriers declined to say whether the shift signaled concerns about falling customer demand. Still, the decision served as a reminder that passengers – many reeling from financial worries of their own – may be nearing a tipping point in terms of how much they will pay to fly.

“This could be the first sign that demand is softening,” said Graeme Wallace, of airfare research site

Compiled from wire reports


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