Federal panel: Gut homes tainted by Chinese drywall

Thousands of U.S. homes tainted by Chinese drywall should be gutted, according to new guidelines released Friday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The guidelines say electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, gas pipes and drywall need to be removed.

About 3,000 homeowners, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall.

The drywall has been linked to corrosion of wiring, air conditioning units, computers and doorknobs, along with possible health effects.

About 2,100 homeowners have filed suit in federal court in New Orleans against Chinese manufacturers and U.S. companies that sold the drywall. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon is expected to rule soon in a pivotal case against the Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., the only Chinese company that has responded to U.S. suits.


Easter spending could see first increase in three years

Consumers plan to spend as much as $14 billion on candy-filled baskets, lamb dinners and colored eggs for the Easter holiday weekend, a sign that non-essential purchases are rebounding.

The projected 1.8 percent boost would be the first rise in Easter spending in three years, with food, candy and clothing leading the growth, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles research firm. Estimates are based on IBISWorld surveys, industry reports and sales figures.

“Consumers are still favoring need versus want, but volume is up as people become more confident,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld.

GM, Hartford repay U.S. $4.4 billion in bailout funds

The Treasury Department says automaker General Motors Co. and insurer Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. have repaid billions of bailout dollars.

Treasury said GM repaid $1 billion of $6.7 billion in loans it received as part of a $50 billion rescue. Hartford repaid its entire $3.4 billion bailout.

The payments mean Treasury has been repaid $181 billion of the money $700 billion it disbursed.

Treasury expects to turn a profit on its investments in banks. But taxpayers are likely to lose more than $100 billion on the automakers and insurance giant American International Group Inc., whose CEO, Robert Benmosche, said Thursday that the insurer is “now on a path” to repaying the loans included in its $182.3 billion rescue package.

AIG will first pay off the $25.3 billion it owes the Federal Reserve before deciding how to raise the cash it needs to end an arrangement with the Treasury that includes a second credit line of more than $40 billion.


Federal judge limits wax seal on liquors to Maker’s Mark

The dripping red wax seal on a bottle of Maker’s Mark is now exclusive legal property of the bourbon company.

A federal judge issued an injunction in Louisville, Ky., on Friday, preventing a rival liquor company from using a dripping wax seal on its tequilas sold in the U.S., ending a seven-year legal battle over the bottle topper.

The ruling comes in a long-running lawsuit between Maker’s Mark and competitors Diageo North America and Casa Cuervo over the Fortune Brands trademark on the wax seal. Deerfield, Ill.-based Fortune Brands owns Maker’s Mark.


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