Wednesday, October 22, 2014

U.S. Airbag Recall Expanded To 7.8 Million Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded its faulty airbag recall notice to 7.8 million vehicles on Tuesday.
 
 
NHTSA is urging owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.  Over six million vehicles are involved in these recalls, which have occurred as far back as 18 months ago and as recently as Monday. 
 
 
The NHTSA said that this notice comes with urgency, especially for owners of vehicles affected by the regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, limited areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana, as well as Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.
 
 "Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures. However, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman.


Consumers that are uncertain whether their vehicle is impacted by the Takata recalls, or any other recall, can contact their manufacturer’s website to search, by their vehicle identification number (VIN) to confirm whether their individual vehicle has an open recall that needs to be addressed. Owners that have been contacted by their manufacturer should contact their dealer’s service department and make arrangements for the repair. In addition, consumers can sign up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners.


 
The list below corrects the list that accompanied the NHTSA October 20 advisory, which incorrectly included certain vehicles. The numbers cited for potentially affected vehicles below are subject to change and adjustment because there may be cases of vehicles being counted more than once. 
 
 
 
Owners should check their VIN periodically as manufacturers continue to add VINs to the database. Once owner recall notices are available, owners can retrieve a copy from SaferCar.gov, or will receive one by U.S. mail and are advised to carefully follow the enclosed instructions. 
 
 
 BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible




Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible




Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang




General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X




Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL




Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – Infiniti FX




Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck




Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider




Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45




Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2003 – 2005 Baja
2004 – 2005 Impreza

 
 
 
Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

U.S., Florida Home Prices Up In September

U.S. existing-home sales rose in September to their highest annual pace of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  All major regions except for the Midwest experienced gains in September.


Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September from 5.05 million in August.  Sales are now at their highest pace of 2014, but still remain 1.7% below the 5.26 million-unit level from last September.


According to NAR, the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2014 was $220,600, up 5.2% from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $213,900.  


Cash Sales


All-cash sales were 24% of transactions in September, up slightly from August (23%) but down from 33% in September of last year.  Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14% of homes in September, up from 12% last month but below September 2013 (19%).


First Time Home Buyers


The percent share of first-time buyers continues to underperform historically, remaining at 29 percent for the third consecutive month. First-time buyers have represented less than 30 percent of all buyers in 17 of the past 18 months.


Foreclosures and Short Sales


Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – increased slightly in September to 10% from 8% in August, but are down from 14% a year ago.  Seven percent of September sales were foreclosures and 3% were short sales.  Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 14% below market value in September (same as in August), while short sales were discounted 14% (10% in August).     


Florida


Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices, increased new listings and a rise in inventory in September, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 20,792 last month, up 13.5% over the September 2013 figure.



The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $180,000, up 5.9% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis (IDA) department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in September was $142,700, up 9.8% over the year-ago figure.  The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.


Looking at Florida’s townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 8,622 last month, up 2% compared to September 2013.  The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales last month compared to the previous year:  Short sales for condo-townhouse properties in the Sunshine State declined 57.9% while short sales for single-family homes dropped 48%. 


“The stability that has characterized the housing market in Florida continued in September but at a higher level of activity,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Both single-family and townhouse and condo sales were up, but so were new listings and pending sales.  Despite this, inventory, as measured in months, remained about the same in a range that indicates a balanced market. So, more houses are coming on the market and more people are buying."


Brevard County

On Florida's Space Coast, sales of existing single-family homes rose 25.7% from a year ago, and the median prices of those sold rose 8.3% to $129,900.  

Brevard County's closed sales of townhouse-condos were up 6.5% year-over-year, and the median prices of those sold rose 12.9% to $118,500.

NHTSA: Florida Drivers Must Act Immediately On Airbag Recall

UPDATE:  U.S. Airbag Recall Expanded To 7.8 Million Vehicles




The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. 


The NHTSA said on Monday this notice comes with urgency, especially for owners of vehicles affected by the regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.


Consumers that are uncertain whether their vehicle is impacted by the Takata recalls, or any other recall, can check on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. On the site, consumers can search by their vehicle identification number (VIN) to confirm whether their individual vehicle has an open recall that needs to be addressed. 


Affected Vehicles, by Manufacturer, Impacted by CY 2013 and 2014 Recalls Involving Takata Airbags

 

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe


Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL


 
Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – Infiniti FX


 
Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 – Mazda RX-8


 
BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible


 
General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Friday, October 17, 2014

Florida Unemployment Down To 6.1%


TALLAHASSEE, Florida --  Florida Governor Rick Scott announced today that Florida’s statewide unemployment rate in September was 6.1%, down 0.2 percentage point from last month and down 0.8 percentage point from the September 2013 rate of 6.9%.  


The Sunshine State created 12,800 private-sector jobs in September 2014.  Since December 2010, Florida’s private-sector businesses have added 651,300 jobs. Florida’s annual job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s rate since April 2012.


“Today’s announcement that Florida businesses have created nearly 13,000 private-sector jobs is great news for Florida families," Governor Scott said.  "Our policies are working in Florida, and more-and-more Floridians are able to get a job and support their family, and we will keep working until every Floridian who wants a job can get one.”


Since December 2010, Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 5.0 percentage points, from 11.1% down now to 6.1% in September 2014.  Florida’s unemployment rate has declined or held steady over the month for 46 of the last 49 months.



The industry gaining the most jobs was trade, transportation, and utilities (+55,300 jobs, +3.5 percent). Other industries gaining jobs included construction (+41,900 jobs, +11.2 percent); professional and business services (+36,500 jobs, +3.2 percent); leisure and hospitality (+29,900 jobs, +2.9 percent); private education and health services (+23,400 jobs, +2.1 percent); manufacturing (+6,900 jobs, +2.1 percent); financial activities (+5,700
jobs, +1.1 percent); other services (+4,700 jobs, +1.5 percent); and information (+1,200 jobs, +0.9 percent).



These industry job gains were partially due to increases in food and beverage stores; specialty trade contractors; employment services; food services and drinking places; ambulatory health care services; fabricated metal product manufacturing; insurance carriers and related activities; membership associations and organizations; and telecommunications.


Government (‐200 jobs, less than ‐0.1 percent) was the only industry to lose jobs over the year.  This loss was due to local government.





Brevard County Unemployment

Brevard County's unemployment rate fell to 6.4% in September 2014, down from 7.7% a year ago.  The Space Coast unemployment rate continues to remain higher than that of the Florida statewide rate.   Out of a labor force of 267,641, there were 17,197 unemployed residents in the county.


Total nonagricultural employment increased by 1,400 jobs over the year in the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area.   Job gains on the Space Coast over the last year were led by education and health services (+1,000 jobs); other services (+700 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+600 jobs); mining, logging, and construction (+500 jobs); and government (+100 jobs).


The industries that lost jobs over the year were professional and business services (-1,100 jobs), manufacturing (-300 jobs), and financial activities (-100 jobs). Trade, transportation, and utilities and information remained unchanged over the year.


RELATED STORIES:

U.S. Jobless Claims Lowest In 14 Years

Stocks, Oil Down For The Week

QUICK READ:  Stocks got absolutely trounced this week, saved only by ephemeral rumors of Janet Yellen making dovish comments behind closed doors. The global economy continues to be mired in a slowdown, making it more difficult for Europe to simply inflate and spend its way out of stagnation. The growing concerns over how to contain the Ebola outbreak has also roiled the markets, as stocks are down and gold continues to climb.



While economic conditions seem to be steadily improving in the U.S., markets have continued to fall right along with Europe. The dollar finally saw some easing this week, while investors poured into Treasuries in droves. Gold remains stable as it steadily moves higher on increased demand.



Oil remains in a bear market, as both major benchmarks opened the week below $90. WTI crude was trading below $84 on Friday while Brent crude was under $87. These represent fresh four-­year lows for crude oil, partly due to surplus production. Falling oil prices will also apply downward pressure on inflation generally, as lower energy and transportation costs help drive the prices of many commodities lower.



All three of the major U.S. stock indices opened in the red Monday, each sliding more than 1%. Over a three­-day span going back to last week, the S&P lost 4.8%, the worst showing for the index over such a time period since November 2011. The stock markets ran off five consecutive days of losses, culminating in a “Hail Mary” from the Fed: it was leaked on Wednesday, when the Dow was down more than 400 points, that Janet Yellen had privately expressed confidence in the growth outlook for the U.S. economy last week. This was all investors needed to feel better, and the markets largely erased the day’s losses. There was little movement on Thursday, however, in spite of surprisingly high industrial production numbers and the lowest first-­time jobless claims report in over 13 years. This positive data was coupled with retail sales coming in below expectations and the Producer Price Index (PPI) dropping for the first time in over a year.



European stocks were at a 13-­month low this week, struggling to gain momentum in such a growth­-depressed economic environment. Several Mediterranean countries have been aggressively selling off government bonds, driving yields up. Greece’s 10­year Treasury note has gained a staggering 318 basis points over the last month, touching 8.94% before slightly easing back to 8.64%. To a lesser extent, even Europe’s strongest economy is feeling the lack of bond demand, as well. After dipping below 0.8%, the German 10­year bund yield rose 6 basis points back to 0.82%.


By contrast, U.S. Treasuries have been the beneficiary of Europe’s growth concerns. After beginning the week down around 2.28%, the yield on 10­year T-­notes fell even further on record trade volumes; some $777 billion of Treasuries exchanged hands on the market by 2 pm on Wednesday, the heaviest volume of such trades on record. As a result, 10­year yields briefly slipped below 2% before returning to about 2.05%. Some selling occurred on Friday morning, as yields rose again to 2.22%.



A LOOK AHEAD:

Yellen spoke on Friday morning in front of the Boston Fed regarding inequality of economic opportunity in America. Presumably, poverty will drop following her comments. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be updated next week on Wednesday and first­-time jobless claims are slated for Thursday. Existing home sales will be reported Tuesday while new home sales come out Friday. Together, this data should give a clearer indication of consumer sentiment and market conditions.



By Everett Millman, head content writer at Gainesville Coins, a leading gold and silver distributor.

Belize Denies Carnival Cruise Ship Entry After Ebola Quarantine

UPDATE:  Lab Worker Aboard Cruise Ship Tests Negative For Ebola Virus


A supervisor of the Texas lab that handled samples from a Liberian man who died after contracting the Ebola virus is being quarantined aboard the Carnival Cruise ship Carnival Magic.   The Carnival Magic was destined for Belize with 3,652 passengers and 981 crew members aboard - but was not allowed to port into Belize City by the Belize Coast Guard, the Belizean reported


"Late afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 15., we were made aware by the U.S. CDC of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital," Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement this morning.  "At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She is deemed by CDC to be very low risk. At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution. We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board."


The recent spread of the Ebola virus in the U.S. and abroad is starting to affect the tourism and travel industry as potential travelers and vacationers re-think their future travel plans.


The cruise ship industry and their related stocks are being hit particularly hard despite a drop in fuel prices.  Carnival Cruise Line stock has been under pressure for the past few weeks after the cruise giant had to change itineraries due to Ebola outbreaks in west Africa. Airline stocks are also taking a tumble due to passenger fears of contracting travel-related Ebola.   

"I think that cruise ships might be the most vulnerable of the travel and leisure cohort, maybe even more than airplanes, which themselves have a huge problem. It's simply disruptive to their business," said CNBC financial commentator Jim Cramer.



Ebola Facts:


Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.  The average fatality rate is around 50%.  


The virus was originally transmitted to people in Africa from non-human primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) and then spread into the human population through human-to-human transmission. 


The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history. There have been cases reported in the U.S., Spain, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.


Although some cruise ships have a ship's registry in West Africa, this does not neccesarily mean that the ship has recently traveled to West Africa.


There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola.



The CDC recommends the following tips to prevent Ebola contamination:
  • Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from non-human primates.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

U.S. Jobless Claims Lowest In 14 Years

U.S. Civilian labor force participation rate over 16.  Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 264,000 in the week ending October 11, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 287,000,


This is the lowest level for initial claims since April 15, 2000 when it was 259,000.  The 4-week moving average was 283,500, a decrease of 4,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 287,750. This is the lowest level for this average since June 10, 2000 when it was 283,500.


But the lower jobless claims do not necessary mean a healthier job market.  That's because those jobless claims do not count those no longer in the labor force who have given up looking for work, are underemployed, retired early, have gone on disability because their unemployment benefits lapsed, or have gone to college and taken out student loans because they cannot find employment.  


As the above graph shows, the number of Americans actually participating in the labor force has dropped nearly five percentage points since 2000 to the lowest since Jimmy Carter was President in 1977.  When less people are participating in the labor force, the unemployment level and jobless claims drop because the people not participating in the labor are no longer counted as unemployed and looking for work.