- - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CONSUMERS

Confidence remains weak in September survey

NEW YORK — Consumers’ confidence remained weak in September after dropping to a post-recession low the month before. That has left economists to wonder just what it will take to get Americans feeling good about the economy again.

A survey of consumer confidence shows that Americans who were worried in August because of a downgrade of U.S. long-term debt, wild stock markets swings and other concerns, continue to be spooked. Economists say the problem is that not much has changed to make consumers feel financially secure. The stock market is still volatile. Worries about the global economy persist. And perhaps worst of all for confidence, U.S. jobs are still scarce.

REAL ESTATE

Spring buying boosts home prices for fourth month

Home prices rose for a fourth straight month in most major U.S. cities in July, buoyed by seasonal buying. But the housing market remains depressed, and prices are expected to decline in the coming months.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday shows home prices increased in July from June in 17 of the 20 cities tracked.

Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis posted the biggest monthly percentage gains. Prices fell in two cities among those hit hardest by the housing crisis — Las Vegas and Phoenix.

PRIVACY

OnStar changes policies because of privacy concerns

ALBANY, N.Y. — The OnStar automobile communication service used by 6 million Americans is changing its policies after privacy issues were raised about keeping former customers connected and collecting data on driving habits.

The service said Tuesday that customers’ concerns prompted the change.

“We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers,” OnStar President Linda Marshall said. “We listened, we responded and we hope to maintain the trust for our more than 6 million customers.”

OnStar no longer will maintain its two-way connection with a customer even after the service is discontinued. Customers also will no longer have to take action to “opt out” of the data collection system once they drop the service.

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