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Digest

Floridians' confidence stabilizes

By TIMES WIRES
Published April 25, 2007


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Consumer confidence fell nationally but stabilized in Florida this month, researchers reported Tuesday. The Conference Board said rising gas prices played a role in pushing the Consumer Confidence Index to 104.0, down from 108.2 in March. The Florida Consumer Confidence Index held steady at 86. "Florida consumers are in a holding pattern regarding the economy and how it affects them," said survey director Chris McCarty at the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "We still believe that the effects of the downturn in housing here in Florida are far from over."

Washington

President: Disclose 401(k) fees better

The Bush administration said Tuesday it will look into ways to help people get information about fees and expenses that can drain money from workers' 401(k) retirement plans. The Labor Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration will start soliciting ideas today from the public, industry and other interested parties aimed at improving the disclosure of these charges to millions of people. With 401(k) plans, employees can make tax-deferred contributions from their salaries to investment accounts. These plans have grown in popularity over the years, while traditional employer-paid pensions that guarantee a monthly benefit have waned. About 80 percent of investors in 401(k) plans do not know how much fees are eroding their account balances, according to a Government Accountability Office report in November. The report, among other things, said the Labor Department should require investors to get a summary of all fees paid either from plan assets or by participants.

Ruling staves off Vonage punishment

Internet phone carrier Vonage Holdings Corp. won relief Tuesday from a potentially crippling court order that would have barred it from signing up new customers as punishment for infringing on patents held by Verizon Communications Inc. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted the stay of a trial judge's injunction Tuesday afternoon, just hours after hearing arguments. A temporary stay had been issued earlier this month, but Tuesday's order will remain in effect throughout the appeal. Vonage is seeking to overturn a jury's verdict in March that it infringed on three Verizon patents in constructing its Internet phone system. After the verdict, the trial judge had ordered a compromise injunction, allowing Vonage to keep serving its 2.4-million existing customers during the appeal but barring any new subscribers.

Boston

Bank groups will sue TJX over data theft

Bank associations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine said Tuesday they will sue TJX Cos. over a data theft that exposed at least 45-million credit and debit cards to potential fraud. Banks have been saddled with costs to replace cards and cover fraudulent charges tied to the theft from TJX, the owner of nearly 2,500 discount stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. Since it disclosed the data theft three months ago, TJX of Framingham, Mass., has been hit with several lawsuits filed in the United States and Canada by consumers, financial institutions and investors.

[Last modified April 25, 2007, 01:00:53]


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