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Ford and Subaru announce recalls

Auto recalls

• Ford is recalling 230,000 minivans in cold weather states to fix rust problems that can cause the third-row seats to come loose. The company said the recall affects Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans from the 2004 through 2007 model years. They were sold mainly in the U.S. and Canada. Owners will be notified later this month.

• Subaru of America is recalling more than 47,000 cars and SUVs with remote starters because the engines can start on their own. The recall affects some Legacy and Outback cars from the 2010 to 2013 model years, the Impreza from 2012 and 2013 and the XV Crosstrek from 2013.

Safety picks

Two versions of the Honda Civic are among five vehicles added to an insurance group’s list of top safety picks for performing well on a new crash test simulating a severe front-end collision.

The two-door and four-door Civics, Honda’s second-best-selling car in the U.S., earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick Plus award for performance both in previous tests and a new evaluation of a crash in which a vehicle’s front corner hits a car, tree or pole.

The Volvo XC60, Ford’s Lincoln MKZ and the 2014 Mazda 6 also got the top picks plus designation.

Mortgage rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 3.52 percent in the week ending Thursday, up from 3.51 percent, mortgage lender Freddie Mac said.

The average 15-year rate held at 2.76 percent.

Confidence grows

Confidence among U.S. consumers rose for a fifth straight week, reaching the highest level this year, as improving stock and home prices gave households a lift.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index improved to minus 32.4 in the week ending March 3 from minus 32.8.

Flight fears

The vice president of a flight attendants union said a new policy that would allow airline passengers to carry small knives is “outrageous.”

Sara Nelson, vice president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said they have to deal with “unruly passengers every day.”

She said that flight attendants are an aircraft’s “last line of defense” and that the new rule puts them “in a much more dangerous position.”

Mutual funds

Investors became more cautious in the last week of February, pulling cash from U.S. stock mutual funds for the first time this year.

Worries about government gridlock in the U.S. and Italy weighed on investors, who continued to add cash to bond funds, as well as funds investing in foreign stocks.

Investors withdrew a net $1.13 billion from funds investing in U.S. stocks during the week ending Feb. 27, the Investment Company Institute said.

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