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NEWS
March 4, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
Smart Balance says it will change the ingredients in its butter-like spreads to make sure they include no genetically modified organisms. “I've been in the food industry for 35 years. I have never seen a consumer issue come on this fast,” said Stephen Hughes, chairman and chief executive of Boulder Brands, the parent company of Smart Balance. “Forty-three percent of our consumers want to see a non-GMO Smart Balance.” Some of the newly formulated products will be on store shelves in March, with the process completed in early summer.
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BUSINESS
March 3, 2014 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - Factory growth picked up last month and consumers spent more than analysts expected in January, countering some recent downbeat reports that indicated the economic recovery was weakening. Severe winter weather appeared to cut both ways in the data released Monday. There were signs it hampered factory production even as new orders and inventories increased, according to the Institute of Supply Management. But some of the increase in consumer spending came from higher heating and utility bills as households dealt with bitter cold in much of the country, said Chris G. Christopher Jr., director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight.
OPINION
February 28, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The U.S. Food and Drug administration broke new ground in consumer protection when it required, more than 20 years ago, the now-familiar nutrition labels on virtually every bit of packaged food. Now, the labels are being revamped - in ways that have both benefits and downsides. One of the most noticeable changes - and the least justifiable - would be the addition of a new sub-category: the number of grams of added sugar in the food, in addition to the existing measure of total sugar.
BUSINESS
February 26, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
The average premium paid for Obamacare coverage on a leading insurance website has dropped by nearly $100 a month since October as more young people sign up, a new industry report shows. The average age of people buying coverage at online broker EHealthInsurance.com dropped from 44 mid-October to 36 in late February, according to the company. The average premium for 2014 health plans sold through EHealth tumbled from $370 a month to $273 over that period, which the company said reflects a higher proportion of younger applicants.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 26, 2014 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski
The advocacy group Consumers Union is urging federal regulators to scrutinize the deal struck between cable giant Comcast Corp. and the Internet streaming service Netflix. Netflix agreed to pay to directly connect to Comcast's network to improve the video quality of movies and TV shows streamed to subscribers, after many complained about deteriorating quality. Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine, called on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and U.S. Atty.
BUSINESS
February 25, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
Consumer confidence retreated in February as fewer Americans expressed optimism about near-term economic conditions, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The consumer confidence index fell to 78.1, down from 79.4 in January. The drop was primarily in its expectations index -- which measures consumers' expectations of economic activity in the next six months.  The survey found that consumers had "concern over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and earnings,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators.
AUTOS
February 25, 2014 | By Jerry Hirsch
Consumer Reports named the Tesla Motors Model S electric car the best vehicle on the road Tuesday. The magazine called the luxury sports sedan its top pick of all 2014 model year autos. This was the first time since 2010 that Consumer Reports named a top overall pick. The last was the Lexus LS 460L. Five of the magazine's 10 top picks this year were Japanese nameplates, including Honda's Accord and Odyssey, Subaru's Impreza and Forester, and Toyota's Prius hybrid. PHOTOS: See Consumer Reports' 10 top car picks German car companies placed two vehicles on the “Top Picks” list, including the BMW 328i and the Audi A6. American manufacturers were represented by Tesla and Chrysler, with its Ram 1500 pickup truck.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 24, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - Party hosts who ask guests to pay a cover charge to defray costs may be held legally responsible if an underage drinker becomes intoxicated and hurts himself or others, the California Supreme Court decided Monday. In a unanimous ruling, the high court said a cover charge amounts to a sale of alcohol, and state law creates liability for those who sell alcohol to obviously intoxicated minors. The decision, which overturned two lower court rulings, is most likely to affect student parties, where underage drinking and cover charges are common.
BUSINESS
February 23, 2014 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski
Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast to ensure the subscription service's movies and TV shows stream seamlessly in a deal that underscores the power of distribution in the digital era - and could mean higher rates for consumers. The nation's leading online video service and the largest U.S. provider of home Internet access said the agreement is designed to ensure that Netflix subscribers can watch the new season of "House of Cards" and other content free of the pauses and hiccups subscribers have reported in recent months.
BUSINESS
February 23, 2014 | By Ronald D. White
Unless you buy your smartphones and mini-tablets in Mexico, the Caribbean or Central and South America, chances are you've never heard of InfoSonics Corp. The San Diego company designs, manufactures and sells wireless handsets and other devices, such as tablets, to other manufacturers, distributors and consumers. Its research and development center is in Beijing. The company also maintains a small quality-control office in Shenzhen, China, close to its manufacturing facilities.
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