Starwatch consumer

Financial troubles reach a four-year low

Updated: 2013-06-12T03:52:26Z

Fewer fears

Money problems have fallen to their lowest in four years, a report says.

Consumers who reported financial troubles have dropped more than 50 percent since hitting a peak in September 2009, according to Consumer Reports. The index tracking these problems has fallen to its lowest since April 2009.

Households that earned less than $50,000 and those that earned more than $100,000 have experienced the largest drops in financial headaches. Middle-class Americans say their money worries got slightly worse in May.

Cable upgrade

Worried about filling up your DVR? The nation’s largest cable TV provider, Comcast, has unveiled a set-top box that does away with the hard drive and saves your TV shows online. The as-yet-unnamed box, running on a platform it calls X2, was unveiled at an annual gathering of cable TV companies and will be available to customers later this year.

E-smokes expand

Tobacco company Altria Group is launching its first electronic cigarette under the MarkTen brand in Indiana starting in August and expanding its smokeless products.

The owner of the nation’s biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, announced the details of its NuMark subsidiary’s foray into the fast-growing business. It is the last of the nation’s major tobacco companies to market an electronic cigarette in an industrywide push to diversify beyond the traditional cigarette business.

Superhero rights

Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Entertainment must go to trial to defend against a copyright claim by Gary Friedrich, who says he created the comic book character Ghost Rider, a motorcycle-riding superhero with a flaming skull.

Friedrich says he first came up with the idea for Ghost Rider in 1968 and then assigned his rights to Marvel, which published the first Ghost Rider comic book in 1972. Friedrich says in his suit that the rights to Ghost Rider automatically became his after the initial copyright term expired in 2000.

Pump relief

The worst may be over for drivers in Michigan and other upper Midwest states who have been grappling with the highest gasoline prices in the continental U.S.

Analysts said a refinery is back online and another is on track with a major reconfiguration. Michigan’s $4.20 average retail price for unleaded gas tops anywhere else except Hawaii.

| Star news services

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