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Mar 7, 2011

Consumer borrowing rises for 4th month in January

WASHINGTON — American consumers borrowed more in January to purchase new cars but were once again frugal with credit card purchases, offering a mixed sign of their confidence in the economy. The Federal Reserve says total borrowing rose at an annual rate of $5 billion in January, or 2.5 percent, the fourth consecutive gain. Strong […]

Mar 1, 2011

Bernanke not worried by higher gas prices

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke boldly predicted to Congress on Tuesday that rising oil prices will cause only a brief and modest rise in consumer inflation. If he’s wrong, as some lawmakers suggested to him, the risks are high: a weaker economy and elevated consumer inflation. Bernanke’s credibility is at stake, too. His […]

Feb 28, 2011

Consumers aren’t spending their extra cash

WASHINGTON — A Social Security tax cut that economists say should help the economy this year is off to a slow start. Consumers increased their spending last month at the weakest pace since June, even with the extra money in their paychecks. Some people may be using the additional money to pay down holiday credit […]

Feb 28, 2011

Tax cut boosts incomes, spending sees small gain

WASHINGTON — A tax cut that began last month gave consumers the biggest jump in their incomes in nearly two years. But Americans boosted their spending only slightly, a sign that many people are being cautious with their money even as the economy improves. Consumers increased spending 0.2 percent in January, the smallest gain since […]

Feb 21, 2011

Presidents Day brings out the customers

Greg Mosley was the excited one of his family at the National Aquarium in Baltimore on Presidents Day. Mosley, who had trekked to Baltimore for the day from Manassas, Va., brought his wife and 22-month-old son to see sharks and reptiles. “I’ve always wanted to come here and never got the opportunity to do it,” […]

Feb 21, 2011

Big spenders getting big perks from credit card firms

It pays to be rich if you need a credit card. A year after sweeping credit card regulations upended the industry, banks are showering perks and rewards on big spenders with sterling credit scores. And they’re socking customers with spottier histories with higher interest rates, lower credit limits and new annual fees. In some cases […]

Feb 17, 2011

Consumers paid more for most goods in January

WASHINGTON — Consumers paid more in January for everything from food and gas to airline tickets and clothing. The price increases reflect creeping but still-modest inflation. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent last month, matching December’s increase, the Labor Department said Thursday. In the past year, the index has risen 1.6 percent. Excluding food […]

Feb 13, 2011

For socially conscious, Valentine’s Day poses problems

Valentine’s Day, with estimated sales of $15.7 billion, is a huge boon for retailers in an otherwise bleak economy, but if you’re a socially conscious consumer, finding one of the top-selling items — chocolate, jewelry or flowers — that fits your ideology may pose significant challenges. From environmental concerns to labor rights to civil wars, […]

Feb 9, 2011

US corn reserves hit lowest level in 15 years

ST. LOUIS — U.S. reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in more than 15 years, reflecting tighter supplies that will lead to higher food prices in 2011. Increasing demand for corn from the ethanol industry is a major reason for the decline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday that the ethanol industry’s […]

Feb 7, 2011

Consumers borrow more money for 3rd straight month

WASHINGTON — Americans are putting more money on their credit cards after two years of cutting back, helping fuel the third straight monthly increase in consumer borrowing. The Federal Reserve reported Monday that consumers increased their borrowing by $6.1 billion in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2.41 trillion. That represented a gain […]

Feb 6, 2011

FTC, Congress look into ‘Do Not Track’ system

The agency that brought us the “Do Not Call” list to prevent telemarketers from interrupting our dinners has now proposed a “Do Not Track” system to prevent Internet sites from sharing purchasing information about their online visitors with advertisers. The Federal Trade Commission’s proposal comes amid concern from consumer groups that the dissemination of such […]

Feb 3, 2011

Consumer spending just keeps on improving

NEW YORK — Americans didn’t stop splurging after the holidays. They braved snowstorms and shopped in force in January, handing retailers like Costco, Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s surprisingly strong sales. Along with two encouraging economic reports — the biggest service sector expansion in five years and a plunge in weekly unemployment claims — the sales […]

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