Business Briefs – December 8, 2016

Hyundai Recalls Minivans; Hoods Can Fly Open While Moving

DETROIT (AP) – Hyundai is recalling more than 41,000 older minivans because the hoods can fly open while they’re being driven.

The recall covers the Entourage minivan from the 2007 and 2008 model years. Hyundai says a secondary hood latch can rust and remain in the unlatched position. So if the primary latch is released, the secondary latch may not keep the hood in place.

The company says it has no reports of crashes or injuries caused by the problem.

Dealers will replace the secondary latches in cold-weather states where corrosive salt is used to clear the roads. They’ll inspect and either lubricate or replace the secondary latch in all other states.

Surgeon General Sounding Alarm On Teens’ Use of E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation’s youth.

In a report released Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledged a need for more research into the health effects of “vaping,” but said e-cigarettes aren’t harmless and too many teens are using them.

“My concern is e-cigarettes have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine,” Murthy told The Associated Press. “If that leads to the use of other tobacco-related products, then we are going to be moving backward instead of forward.”

Claims for U.S. Unemployment Aid Slide Again

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer Americans signed up for unemployment benefits last week, another sign the U.S. job market remains healthy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly claims for jobless aid slid by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 258,000. The less-volatile four-week average rose by 1,000 to 252,500. Overall, 2.01 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down 10 percent from a year ago.

Claims have come in below 300,000 for 92 straight weeks, longest such streak since 1970. The applications are a proxy for layoffs, and the low numbers suggest that employers are hanging onto their workers and that most Americans enjoy job security.

U.S. Home Price Gains Lift Household Wealth to $90.2 Trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) – A healthy increase in home values and higher stock prices drove up U.S. household wealth in the July-September quarter, though the gains are largely concentrated among wealthier Americans.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that real estate values increased $554 billion in the third quarter, while Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios rose $494 billion. Total household wealth, which includes checking and savings accounts and subtracts mortgages and other debt, increased 1.8 percent to $90.2 trillion.

The rise suggests that Americans’ finances are improving, with more families building equity in their homes.

U.S. 30-Year Average Mortgage Rate Rises to 4.13 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates climbed for the sixth straight week in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election win, marking new highs for the year.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan jumped this week to 4.13 percent from 4.08 percent the previous week. The benchmark rate surpassed its 3.95 percent level of a year ago. The rate on 15-year home loans, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, rose to 3.36 percent from 3.34 percent.

Long-term mortgage and interest rates have surged in the five weeks since Trump’s surprise victory in November to become the country’s next president.

Airlines Project ‘Soft Landing’ In 2017 After Record Profits

GENEVA (AP) – The world’s leading association of airlines is lowering its projection for record industry net profit this year, while predicting a 16 percent drop next year due to rising oil prices.

The International Air Transport Association forecasts profit of $35.6 billion this year, down from its previous projections for $39.4 billion due to slower economic growth and rising costs. Profit is expected to be $29.8 billion in 2017.

IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac cited continued economic, political and security risks, but said the industry’s more resilient after years of restructuring. He cautioned profits are not evenly distributed, with the best performance centered on North America.