DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. safety regulators are looking into whether a Hyundai Elantra recall should be expanded.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a Recall Query to determine if 52,000 Elantra Touring cars from the 2009 through 2012 model years should be recalled.
In March, Hyundai recalled more than 186,000 Elantra compacts from the 2011 to 2013 model years because a ceiling support bracket can come loose when side air bags inflate. In one case a bracket cut a driver's ear.
The safety agency says that the 2009-2012 Elantra Touring models have a bracket design that's similar to the recalled cars.
In the recall, dealers were to install industrial adhesive strips to keep the brackets in place. The bracket design was changed in cars built after March 5, 2013.
Posted 10:48 AM EST on December 09, 2013
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Eds: Updates with more details and background. With AP Photos.
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest since early 2012. But nearly half the growth came from a buildup in business stockpiles, a trend that could reverse in the current quarter and hold back growth.
The Commerce Department's second estimate of third-quarter growth released Thursday was sharply higher than the initial 2.8 percent rate reported last month. And it was well above the 2.5 percent growth rate for the April-June quarter.
Almost the entire third-quarter revision came from a big jump in stockpiles. Consumer spending, the lifeblood of the economy, was the weakest in nearly four years.
When excluding inventories, the economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the third quarter, down from 2.1 percent in the spring. That's in line with the same subpar rate that the economy has seen since the Great Recession ended four years ago.
Many economists believe that overall growth will be around 2 percent in the current October-December period.
Business stockpiles contributed 1.7 percent points to growth, twice the contribution reported last month in the first estimate. Companies are likely to cut back on restocking, especially if they don't see consumers stepping up spending.
In the third-quarter, consumers increased their spending at a tepid 1.4 percent annual rate. That was the slowest since the final quarter of 2009, a few months after the recession officially ended. Consumer spending typically drives 70 percent of economic activity.
But the spending activity in the third quarter was held back by flat spending on services. That may have reflected an unusually mild summer, which cut demand for air conditioning. One hopeful sign: Consumer spent on goods at the fastest rate since early 2012.
Other details in the report were mixed. Business investment in equipment was flat in the third quarter. Spending on housing construction remained strong, rising at an annual rate of 13 percent. Government spending edged up at a slight 0.4 percent annual rate in the summer. The biggest spending increase in state and local government spending since 2009 offset another decline in federal expenditures.
A number reports have offered some promise that the fourth quarter could be stronger than many economists are predicting.
In October, spending at retail businesses rose solidly, U.S. exports grew to a record level and employers added 204,000 jobs. November car sales rose 9 percent and are running at an annual rate of 16.4 million, the best performance of the year, according to Autodata Corp.
But early reports on holiday shopping have been disappointing. The National Retail Federation estimates that sales over the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend -- arguably the most crucial shopping stretch for retail businesses -- fell for the first time since the group began keeping track in 2006.
Faster growth could make the Federal Reserve more inclined to begin slowing its bond purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low and encouraged more borrowing and spending.
Many economists believe the central bank will not reduce the $85 billion-a-month pace when it meets later this month.
Posted 4:43 AM EST on December 05, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The big discounts certainly are a major draw, but holiday sales may also get a boost this year from the lower price of gasoline. AAA says the average price of gasoline has tumbled 49 cents from its peak this year to $3.29 a gallon, putting it on track for the lowest average since 2010. And history shows that when gas prices drop, consumers become more likely to splurge on dinners out. Impulse buys at the mall seem like less of a stretch. Many retail analysts have forecast a ho-hum sales gain of around 2 percent this year. Others predict a more optimistic increase of up to 3.9 percent. But some analysts say steadily cheaper gas could send holiday sales soaring above 5.4 percent. Cheaper gas might also help shore up consumers' fragile confidence in an economic recovery that's lumbered along for 4 1/2 years.
Posted 12:26 PM EST on November 27, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Shoppers in many states will line up for deals hours after Thanksgiving dinner, but stores in a handful are barred by law from opening on the holiday. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine have so-called "blue laws" that bar many big stores from opening Thursday. The laws prohibit most big box stores department stores and large supermarkets from opening. There have been some complaints over the years from companies that complain they're losing business to neighboring states or online stores, and recent pushes to change the laws in Maine and Massachusetts have gone nowhere. But many shoppers, workers and even retailers say they're more than happy with the status quo, which grants a one-day reprieve from work and holiday shopping.
Posted 5:43 PM EST on November 26, 2013
HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Gun advocates are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's ruling against state laws designed to buck federal gun rules. Earlier this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge's decision against the 2009 Montana Firearms Freedom Act. The measure has since been passed in other pro-gun states. The laws attempt to declare that federal firearms regulations don't apply to guns kept in the state where they were manufactured. The Justice Department has argued successfully that the courts already have decided Congress can use its power to regulate interstate commerce. Gun advocates asked the Supreme Court on Monday to limit the reach of Congress to regulate guns. The Supreme Court is expected to decide next year whether to accept the request.
Posted 5:13 AM EST on November 25, 2013