Personal Finance

Groupon branches out with online restaurant-booking service

Deals on meals

Groupon Inc., the biggest daily deal website, is adding an online restaurant-booking service offering discounted meals. The service, called Groupon Reserve, will let customers use’s reservations engine to find tables. It’s starting in 10 cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, with plans to expand the rest of this year.

Consumer comfort higher

Consumer sentiment climbed last week to its highest in more than five years as Americans became increasingly convinced the time was right to spend. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 27.5 in the period ended June 30, its highest level since January 2008, from minus 28.3 a week earlier. Measures of personal finances and buying climate gained.

Higher home values and improvements in the labor market are helping boost demand for housing and automobiles as consumers gain confidence the expansion will continue. The figures indicated households are looking past a recent jump in borrowing costs as the economy recovers and fuel costs retreat.

Pepsi carcinogen claim

An environmental group said Wednesday that the caramel coloring used in Pepsi still contains a worrisome level of a carcinogen, even after the drink maker said it would change its formula. The chemical is 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel, which can form during the cooking process and, as a result, may be found in trace amounts in many foods.

In March, PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. both said they would adjust their formulas nationally after California passed a law mandating drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens come with a cancer warning label. But the Center for Environmental Health said testing indicated that although Coke products no longer test positive for the chemical, Pepsi products sold outside of California still do.

Mortgage rates drop

Mortgage rates for 30-year U.S. loans declined, reducing borrowing costs for homebuyers after the biggest jump in 26 years. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.29 percent from a two-year high of 4.46 percent last week, Freddie Mac said Wednesday. The average 15-year rate fell to 3.39 percent from 3.5 percent.

The average 30-year rate has increased from a near-record low of 3.35 percent in early May. It is still well below the average of about 5.3 percent over the past 10 years.

Toyota recall

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 185,000 vehicles globally, mostly in Japan and Europe, for a glitch in the power steering that can make drivers work harder to steer. No accidents have been reported related to the problem. Only about 100 vehicles were affected in North America.

Star news services