Business Digest: Hyundai recalls 978,000 cars for seat belt issue


AUTOMAKERS

Hyundai recalls 978,000 cars for seat belt issue

DETROIT — Hyundai is recalling 978,000 cars in the U.S. because the front seat belts could detach in a crash and fail to hold people. The recall covers Sonata midsize sedans from the 2011 through 2014 model years, and the Sonata hybrid from 2011 through 2015.

Hyundai says in government documents that a fastener for a seat belt anchor may not have been fully latched during assembly. If that happens the belts can detach. The company says it knows of one minor injury caused by the problem.

The trouble was discovered in September when an owner reported that the front passenger belt in a 2013 Sonata came loose in a collision.

Owners will be notified starting April 7. Dealers will inspect the seat belt anchor system and repair it if needed.

MORTGAGE INDUSTRY

Average rate on 30-year loan rises to 4.30%

WASHINGTON — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week for a second straight week, posting new highs for the year. The markets were anticipating an increase in a key interest rate by the Federal Reserve, which the Fed announced Wednesday.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate loans climbed to 4.30 percent from 4.21 percent last week. The benchmark rate stood at 3.73 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent through 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages increased to 3.50 percent from 3.42 percent last week.

The Fed’s move marked the second time in three months that the central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate. The Fed also forecast two additional hikes this year. The Fed action reflects a consistently solid U.S. economy and will likely mean higher rates on some consumer and business loans.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

INTERNET

Google adding ‘offensive’ flag option for content

Google is trying to improve the quality of its search results by directing review teams to flag content that might come across as upsetting or offensive.

With the change, content with racial slurs could now get flagged under a new category called “upsetting-offensive.” So could content that promotes hate or violence against a specific group of people based on gender, race or other criteria.

While flagging something doesn’t directly affect the search results themselves, it’s used to tweak the company’s software so that better content ranks higher. This approach might, for instance, push down content that is inaccurate or has other questionable attributes, thereby giving prominence to trustworthy sources.

The review teams — comprised of contractors known as “quality raters” — already comb through websites and other content to flag questionable items such as pornography. Google added “upsetting-offensive” in its latest guidelines for quality raters. Google declined to comment on the changes, which were reported in the blog Search Engine Land and elsewhere.

ECONOMY

Japan’s central bank holds steady on rate, stimulus

TOKYO — Japan’s central bank opted Thursday to retain its ultra-lax monetary stimulus, citing U.S. policy changes as one of the risks for the global economic outlook.

The Bank of Japan gave no indication it was leaning toward cutting back on the massive purchases of government bonds it is using to support the world’s No. 3 economy by injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy every year.

The Bank of Japan said that Japan’s economy was on a “moderate recovery trend.” But it lacks the dynamism seen in the U.S. economy that led the Federal Reserve to raise the federal funds rate Wednesday by 0.25 percentage points to a range of 0.75 to 1 percent. The bank kept its benchmark policy rate at minus 0.1 percent.



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