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Housing market takes a dip

Wed., March 26, 2014, midnight

There was another sign Tuesday that the housing market is cooling off. Just a bit.

One of the nation’s most closely watched home-price indexes inched downward for the third straight month in January, though prices climbed slightly after seasonal variations were taken into account.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index saw prices tick down 0.1 percent across the 20 major cities it tracks, though they gained 0.8 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices are up 13.2 percent compared with this time last year, but the quick pace of gains has clearly slowed.

Derailment hastens phase-out

MONTREAL – Canadian National Railway said it will phase out the type of tank cars involved in the Quebec train derailment last summer that killed 47.

CN Rail chief executive Claude Mongeau said Tuesday its fleet of 183 DOT-111 tank cars will be retired over four years. CN is Canada’s largest railway.

He said car design was “one of the most important systematic issues” arising from last summer’s railway explosion in Lac-Megantic.

The Association of American Railroads recently recommended the retrofitting or phase-out of the old DOT-11 cars used to transport flammable liquids and a reinforced standard for new tank cars. The DOT-111 tank car is considered the workhorse of the North American fleet and makes up about 70 percent of all tankers on the rails.

Consumer confidence is up

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer confidence has rebounded to the highest reading in six years, providing a further sign that the economy’s prospects should brighten.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index rose to 82.3 this month from a February reading of 78.3. It was the strongest reading since the index stood at 87.3 in January 2008, just as the recession was beginning.

E-book refunds on the way

ALBANY, N.Y. – Buyers of electronic books will get account credits this week from five publishers who reached settlements after states alleged they colluded to raise prices, New York’s attorney general said Tuesday.

The $166 million national settlements were approved Dec. 6 and cover claims from April 1, 2010, to May 21, 2012. Buyers who bought certain e-books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Apple will automatically get partial refund credits in their e-book accounts. Notification emails to eligible buyers were going out starting Tuesday.

Fees overtake payday loans

WASHINGTON – A new study found that about half of all payday loans are made to people who extend the loans so many times that they end up paying more in fees than the original amount they borrowed.

Payday loans, also known as cash advances or check loans, are short-term loans at high interest rates. They often are made to borrowers with weak credit or low incomes.

The report released Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that four of five payday borrowers either default on or extend a payday loan over the course of a year.

Wal-Mart recalls baby dolls

WASHINGTON – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is recalling 174,000 dolls because the toy can overheat and potentially burn consumers.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday that the “My Sweet Love / My Sweet Baby Cuddle Care Baby Doll” has a circuit board in its chest that can overheat, causing the surface of the doll to get hot and burn someone.


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