Inside these posts: Consumers

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Consumer sentiment at five-month low in March

Consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level in five months in early March as gasoline prices rose, a survey released on Friday showed.

Even so, buying plans were largely unchanged and although the rate of real consumer spending will diminish, the report does not indicate a renewed downturn on the horizon, the latest consumer survey from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan said. Get the full story »

U.S. retailers’ sales rise, but gas prices threaten

A shopper outside of Tiffany & Co. on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. (David Pierini/Chicago Tribune)

Top U.S. retailers posted stronger-than-expected sales gains for February, a show of strength that could dissipate in March as a late Easter and rising gasoline prices take their toll.

The chains reported a rise of 4.2 percent in sales at stores open at least a year, according to Thomson Reuters data. Analysts had expected the Thomson Reuters index of 25 retailers to show a 3.6 percent rise in same-store sales last month.

The results confirmed consumer confidence data showing that the U.S. economy is on better footing despite the spike in gas prices. Get the full story »

Consumer sentiment rises to best in 3 years

Consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in three years in February, helped by an improving view of the labor market recovery, a survey released on Friday showed. Get the full story »

Elizabeth Warren confident after investor meetings

White House adviser Elizabeth Warren said her meetings with investors and bank executives are going well, helping to give the financial industry a better sense of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s direction and priorities.

“I have really been on the road,” Warren told CNBC, noting that she’s been traveling the country meeting with community bankers, consumer advocates, chief executives of the largest financial firms and buy-side investors. Warren said she has discussed the agency’s approach to regulation and outlined its likely first steps “to make it really clear where we’re headed.” Get the full story »

Poll finds consumers are still reluctant to spend

Consumers aren’t in a spending mood and there is little indication that they will be anytime soon, according to a new poll from Harris Interactive.

Indeed, the market research firm has asked the same set of questions to consumers seven times since the economic crisis began in 2008 and, with few exceptions, the responses have scarcely changed, the New York-based firm said.

The likelihood that consumers will make a big ticket purchase remains low, with 88 percent saying they are “not likely” to buy or lease a new car or truck and 79 percent saying they are “not likely” to buy a computer. Similarly, 90 percent said they are “not likely” to buy a new house or condo. Get the full story »

Moody’s may raise McDonald’s ratings

(Reuters/Molly Riley/Files)

Moody’s Investors Service said on Friday it may raise its ratings on McDonald’s Corp. due to solid operating performance and growth prospects.

Moody’s placed McDonald’s A3 senior unsecured rating, the seventh-highest rating, and Prime-2 short-term commercial paper rating on review for possible upgrade.

“The review for possible upgrade reflects McDonald’s solid operating performance achieved through various strategic initiatives such as new product innovation, cost savings, re-imaging and new restaurant growth,” Moody’s analyst Bill Fahy said in a statement. Get the full story »

Fed sets mortgage disclosure, compensation rules

The Federal Reserve on Monday published new rules aimed at protecting consumers from abusive mortgage practices, including clearer cost disclosures and a ban on payments to mortgage brokers for steering borrowers into loans with higher interest rates.

The Fed said it would ban payments from lenders to brokers based on interest rates paid by borrowers or other loan terms. The final rule, which takes effect on April 1, 2011, will end the so-called “yield spread premium” payments blamed for pushing millions of borrowers into unaffordable loans. Get the full story »

Credit-card debt drops 10.5% in May

Paying down credit-card debt appears to be on the upswing.

Consumers cut their outstanding revolving debt -– overwhelmingly credit cards -– by an annualized, seasonally adjusted rate of 10.5 percent in May, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. That’s on the heels of an 11.8 percent drop in April. Revolving credit is a line of credit allowing consumers to pay all or part of an outstanding balance, and, as the balance is paid, it becomes available to spend again as credit. Get the full story »

What financial reform means for you

As legislators on Capitol Hill trumpet a final agreement on sweeping financial reform, consumers might be wondering, “What’s in it for me?”

They will benefit in a big-picture way from many of the provisions in the bill, likely to be passed by Congress next week. It is meant to provide a more stable financial system, prevent government bailouts of banks and protect investors. Get the full story »