Markets Climb to All-Time Highs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rising home sales and an upbeat weekly employment report pushed the markets to all-time highs on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 33.27 to close at a record  17,719.00. The Nasdaq rose 26.16 points to 4,701.87, and the S&P 500 gained 4.03 points closing at a new benchmark of 2,052.75.

A lot of people went home shopping last month. The National Association of Realtors says existing home sales rose about 1.5%-- the most brisk pace so far this year.

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment fell by 2,000 last week. The less volatile four week average was also down.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Infant ‘Fingertip Amputations’ Lead to Huge Graco Stroller Recall

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly five million Graco baby strollers have been recalled due to “fingertip amputation hazard,” but an ABC News investigation found that if this recall goes like most safety recalls, a vast majority of the strollers could remain on the market, posing a threat to infants for years to come.

The recall, to be announced later Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and Canadian and Mexican officials, says Graco has received reports of 11 finger injuries “including six reports of fingertip amputations, four reports of partial-fingertip amputation and one finger laceration.”

The recall affects 11 models of Graco strollers made from August 2000 to September 2014 -- about 4.7 million strollers in the U.S., more than 200,000 in Canada and 10,300 in Mexico. Owners are told to contact Graco “immediately” to get a free repair kit and, before the kit comes, to “exercise extreme care” when unfolding and using the stroller. A CPSC official told ABC News the fix is "very easy to install" and if parents just safely engage the lock, they can use the stroller until the new hinge cover arrives.

The bigger problem: The ABC News 20/20 investigation, airing Friday, found that most recalled products are not turned in or fixed, and remain in homes or are listed for sale.

Under current federal law, there is no minimum effort that manufacturers have to make, or money they have to spend, to get the word out about the safety recalls.

It is illegal to sell a recalled product, but in a joint investigation with 17 ABC News affiliates across the country, reporters found a wide range of recalled products easily available for resale.

“We need to solve this problem and we need as much energy and as much participation from all different aspects we can,” Elliot Kaye, the head of the CPSC, told ABC News in his first major interview since being appointed chairman earlier this year.

Kaye said all too often manufacturers give only lip service to safety and fail to spend the money necessary to make sure their recalls are widely known by American families.

“We need industry to do more, and we certainly need more done on the tech side, and so be able to get these minds, who are so creative, to commit to working in this space really can make a difference,” said Kaye, who estimated that for a “good recall,” the government estimates only 20 percent of the recalled products are returned or accounted for. In worse cases, it can be as low as five percent.

Tune in to ABC's Good Morning America, World News with David Muir and 20/20 Friday for the full report on recalled products, to hear from victims of serious incidents, and to see what major companies are and are not doing to make American households safer.

To see if a product you’ve purchased has been recalled, go to SaferProducts.gov.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Apple Makes Small Change to Its App Store

Apple(NEW YORK) -- Visitors to Apple's app store on Thursday may notice that the "free" button to download an app has been changed to "get."

While the change was made without any fanfare, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation that the move is designed to make it clear that while some games are free, they may offer in-app upgrades that cost money.

Apple already has a family sharing feature in place called "Ask to Buy," which sends a request to a person in charge of the account who can either approve or decline the query.

Earlier this year, Google switched its call to action in the Play store for "freemium" apps, according to Engadget, replacing the word "free" with "install."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Robot Bartenders Mix it Up on the High Seas

Royal Caribbean(NEW YORK) -- Of all the tech things travelers love about the cruise industry's latest brand-new mega-ship, robot bartenders is definitely the most talked about.

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, part of the line's Quantum Class, spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, features 2,090 staterooms and carries 4,180 guests. Each one of them is likely lining up for a beer served by a bot at the ship's Bionic Bar.

Powered by Makr Shakr, a company that aims to "empower people with new robotic interactions, especially in the food and beverage sector," guests place orders via tablets and then wait as robotic bartenders mix cocktails.

Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty, New Jersey for the inaugural season before departing to its new homeport of Shanghai, China.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Many Young Adults Uncertain About Future Employment Opportunities

Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- How many times have young adults heard that they’re enjoying the best years of their lives?

Unfortunately, a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s are having anything but that, in large part due to a still sluggish employment picture.

A new Federal Reserve survey says it’s been going on longer than just the period during and after the Great Recession. These higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of labor force participation for younger generations, compared to older generations, go back at least two decades.

As a result, just 45 percent of young adults are optimistic about their future employment opportunities. That left 55 percent saying that they were either uncertain or even pessimistic about what the future holds for them career-wise.

Contributing to these feelings of unease is the October unemployment rate for Americans 20-to-24 standing at 10.1 percent and the rate for those 25-to-34 at 6.1 percent. The national average last month was 5.8 percent.

The survey of nearly 2,100 people ages 18-to-30 was conducted last December.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Home Improvement Tops Consumer Satisfaction List

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Businesses can't exist without happy customers, which is why they try their best to satisfy them. And in YouGov BrandIndex’s first annual consumer satisfaction ranking of brand categories, the winner is Home Improvement with a score of 71.0, followed closely by Tools/Hardware with a score of 68.1.

YouGov BrandIndex, a brand consumer perception research service, surveyed 9,000 people to learn which of the 43 major brand categories ranked the highest to the lowest.

Interestingly, Cruise Lines was third with a 64.4 score despite news of assorted Norovirus incidents. Meanwhile, Apparel and Amusement Parks tied for fourth with 59.5 score.

Other brands that did well in the survey included Travel Agents, Mattress Brands, Car Rentals and Online Streaming Video.

Businesses that didn't rank so high include Pizza, Life Insurance, TV Networks and Gambling/Casinos.

At the bottom, numbers 39-43 in order were Erectile Dysfunction (Drugs), Consumer Banks, Property & Casualty Insurance, Wireless Provider and finally Cable and Satellite, which scored 13.2 on the satisfaction scale.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Large Sized Vehicles Best for Surviving Potentially Fatal Accidents

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Despite everything that’s been done to help motorists avoid fatal accidents, there are still 30,000 deaths in the U.S. annually caused by vehicular crashes.

About 21 percent of head-on collisions involve drivers 15-24 and while 39 percent of young people die in these crashes, it’s still the lowest rate of fatalities among all age groups.

Furthermore, when Indiana University doctoral student Uzay Kirbiyik examined Fatality Analysis Reporting System database records in 1,100 crashes, he found that the chances of survival increased when the driver is a young male wearing a seat belt with an airbag that deploys who is driving a newer car with more mass such as a light truck or an SUV.

With all things being equal, Kirbiyik says the height, rigidity and weight of the vehicle is a major factor in survival rates. However, he did note that more young women than young men die in head-on collisions, a factor he did not elaborate on.

As for how to lower the death rates of other age groups involved in fatal crashes, the researcher contends that it will take “an intervention that reduces the involvement of younger drivers” while acknowledging it’s not an easy task.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Jobless Claims Fall to 291K Last Week

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims dropped slightly lower last week, decreasing by 2,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Nov. 15, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell to 291,000. The previous week claims stood at 293,000, revised up from 290,000.

The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.

The four-week moving average rose to 287,500 from last week’s revised average of 285,750.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Michelin Reinvents the Wheel with Airless Tire

Michelin(NEW YORK) -- Drivers' hearts may not go aflutter over innovation in the tire industry as much as they get excited by a new tech gadget, but Michelin North American Chairman Pete Selleck says the company is truly reinventing the wheel.

Selleck is announcing Thursday the Tweel, the first airless tire ever to be commercially available. The company is also opening a new factory in Piedmont, South Carolina, its tenth manufacturing facility in the state and its 16th in the country.

As part of ABC News' C-Suite Insider Series, Selleck talked about being on the forefront of American manufacturing and why an airless tire is so hard to make.

Tell us about the Tweel. It's intended for industrial vehicles like John Deere's commercial mowers, but when will it be available for passenger cars?

"People see the Tweel and they immediately ask the question, 'When am I going to get it on my car?' The story is really about innovation," Selleck said.

"Down the road, who knows maybe the Tweel will replace the pneumatic tire. We are going to innovate on the Tweel, and we will let the future happen. If the Tweel does in fact come to passenger cars, I can assure you Michelin will be the first."

Technical issues are a factor in making the tires, and so is cost.

"Our customers have such a huge problem with flat tires, they don’t really care with the cost. The downtime to deal with flat tires is so great -- finding a solution is almost priceless. The commercial lawnmower John Deere that will be offering Tweel is about $750 more."

Is it a threat to Michelin's market for passenger car tires?

Michelin invented the Tweel back in 2005, and other companies have since developed prototypes, but Michelin is the first to commercialize the concept.

"Some might see the Tweel as a threat to us, but we are very focused on the opportunity," he said. "Our customers don’t really buy tires. What they really want to do is maintain the mobility of their vehicles."

Flat tires are the biggest concerns for industrial skid-steer and mower owners.

While gadget makers would be thrilled if you burn through their products every year, one of Michelin's goals is to make longer-lasting tires, he said.

How does American manufacturing compare to the industry abroad?

Before he was appointed as head of Michelin North America in 2011, the 32-year Michelin veteran previously worked in France. Overseeing the brand's global truck business, Selleck said he's had a close-up view to compare manufacturing in China, India, Brazil, Central Europe and South America, among other regions.

"What most people don’t realize is that the manufacturing output in the U.S. is at the highest level ever in history," he said. "We are producing a higher number of products for our citizens. Most people don’t realize that because the number of people working in manufacturing has decreased."

The majority of what Michelin sells in North America is made in North America for several reasons, he said. First, the logistic costs of moving products can be prohibitive, but also, the tires themselves change per region.

"Driving conditions are different, so tires are different," he said.

Manufacturing in high labor-cost countries like the U.S. and Canada "has to be very good," he said.

"You have to be excellent at safety, quality, with good flexibility and cost management. But American workers and Canadian workers are continuously demonstrating their ability to do that, and they are continuing to improve," he said.

With all your business travel, what's your secret to a sane schedule?

For the last 10 years, Selleck limits the number of hours he works in a week, with the help of his executive assistant.

"Simply because my executive assistant does a great job of keeping meetings short and to the point, and giving me in the week sometimes breaks to work out. In my early years, I wasn’t bright enough to make time," he said.

"My executive assistant is helping me manage the number of hours I work so it’s not out of control," he said, explaining that they use an "objective accounting system" of what counts and what doesn't as work. "If I have a business dinner, and I have my wife with me, it doesn’t count. The key thing is to avoid too many early mornings and too many late nights or minimize the number of them."

Favorite time to work out?

"I personally prefer to work out in the middle of the day," he said, adding that he frequents a health club that's 10 minutes from the office. "I work out [for] about an hour: do stretches to keep certain joints in good shape for old people like me; or I'm on the elliptical to watch TV; or weight training. If I can do that three or four times a week, maybe a round or two of golf, I’m a happy camper when it comes to my health."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Why New Orleans Is the New Moviemaking Capital

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave are two blockbuster films with something in common, and it’s not just their Oscar nods.

Both were shot not on set in a Hollywood studio, but on the streets of New Orleans.

Louisiana has recently earned a new reputation as “Hollywood South.” There are 14 films and TV shows currently in production in New Orleans, far out-pacing Hollywood, and A-listers including Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt and John Goodman all have homes here.

Currently, actors Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick are shooting their new movie Mr. Right in New Orleans.

“I am obsessed with [New Orleans] so far,” Kendrick said. “Just everything about it is -- it’s so unique. There’s just absolutely no other place in the country like it.”

Mr. Right director Paco Cabezas couldn’t say enough about shooting the movie there.

“[We] wanted a movie that was full of life so that’s why we came here,” Cabezas said.

Of course, there’s no party like a New Orleans party -- the music, the food, the beignets -– but those are not the main reasons movie producers are choosing the Big Easy and the Bayou State over old familiar shooting haunts like Los Angeles and New York.

“We were thinking about Puerto Rico at one point, Columbia, Toronto, Georgia, and the one big reason we ended up coming [to New Orleans] was the tax credit,” said producer Bradley Gallo.

Moviemakers get a 30-percent tax break from the state of Louisiana, compared with the 20-25 percent offered in California and base of 20 percent in Georgia.

“Every dollar they spend in the state to a Louisiana-based company gets 30 percent back from the state of Louisiana,” said the state’s Entertainment Bureau spokeswoman Katherine Williams. “If they hire local crews and vendors that’s an extra 5 percent [looking at 35-percent tax credit] for every dollar spent.”

Those movies included 21 Jump Street, its sequel 22 Jump Street, Django Unchained, and even Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, just to name a few.

For Louisiana, film and TV production here meant $813 million added to the local economy last year, according to Film New Orleans. For local technicians like Earl Woods, it meant a steady paycheck. Like so many in New Orleans, Woods said he was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.

“When Katrina came, business was probably down six months before the movies started trickling back in,” Woods said. “I think the movie and film business helped rebuild the city financially a lot.”

And not only does filming in New Orleans provide jobs, it also helps young up-and-comers in the business earn more responsibility faster, like Mara LePere-Schoop. She works as a production designer, a title she said she might have had to wait another 10 years to earn in Hollywood.

“I’ve been very fortunate down here because it’s been so busy, had a lot of access to things I don’t think I would have necessarily had in L.A. or New York,” she said. “In some ways it was kind of a fast-track apprenticeship, where I got to do things that in other places wouldn’t have happened as quickly.”

Beyond the tax credit and job opportunities, many credit Brad Pitt and the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a major turning point for the city. Benjamin Button was one of the first big movie productions in a post-Katrina New Orleans, and Pitt has become one of many celebrities who have given both their talents and time to rebuilding the Big Easy.

“Brad Pitt really fought to bring Curious Case of Benjamin Button back to New Orleans after the storm,” Williams said. “They had planned on shooting it here and after the storm the studio was leary… I think he knew what it would mean for the city to showcase that it was dry and not under water and open for business.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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