Japan’s lock on Consumer Reports’ vehicle reliability rankings is starting to ease. Three Japanese brands — Lexus, Toyota and Acura — took the top spots in this year’s survey, and seven of the top 10 brands are Japanese. But three non-Japanese brands — Audi, Volvo and GMC — cracked the top 10.
The magazine also announced Monday that it’s not recommending that consumers buy 2014 models of the Honda Accord V6 and Nissan Altima sedans, two of Japan’s top sellers, because of poor reliability scores. Two other Japanese mainstays, the Toyota Camry and Toyota RAV4, won’t be recommended because they flunked a frontal crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Yonkers, N.Y.-based Consumer Reports predicts the reliability of 2014 model year cars and trucks based on a survey of subscribers who own vehicles from current or prior model years. This year, the survey questioned the owners of 1.1 million vehicles.
Problems with infotainment systems, from frozen touch screens to poorly performing voice-operated navigation systems, were frequent complaints.
— Associated Press
●Burger King said it’s attracting more customers with its new lower-calorie fries. The Miami-based company said Monday that it saw sales trends in North America turn positive after last month’s launch of “Satisfries,” which have 20 percent fewer calories than its regular fries because of a batter that absorbs less oil. “It brought in incremental consumers who would otherwise not have come into Burger King,” said Alex Macedo, the chain’s president of North American operations.
●The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy existing homes fell in September to the lowest level in nine months. The decline reflects higher mortgage rates and home prices that have made purchases more costly. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dropped 5.6 percent last month from August to a reading of 101.6. That also pushed the index below its year-ago level, the first time that has happened in nearly 2½ years.
●A Delaware judge on Monday approved a settlement in a shareholder lawsuit challenging Google’s plans to split its stock and issue a new class of nonvoting shares for each share of existing stock. The judge approved the settlement despite noting that, while it is designed to ensure that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin retain control of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, the two are not being forced to give any concessions to other shareholders. Instead, like other shareholders, Page and Brin will receive Class C shares in an amount equal to their Class B stock holdings — more than 24 million shares each.
●Consol Energy said Monday that it is selling all five of its longwall coal mines in West Virginia to a subsidiary of Ohio-based Murray Energy for a deal that includes $850 million in cash. The Consolidation Coal subsidiary is selling the McElroy, Shoemaker, Robinson Run, Loveridge and Blacksville No. 2 mines, which produced a combined 28.5 million tons of thermal coal last year. The transaction also includes river and dock operations with a fleet of 600 barges and 21 towboats.
— From news services
●8:30 a.m.: Producer price index and retail sales for September released.
●9 a.m.: S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index for August released.
●10 a.m.: Business inventories for August and consumer confidence index for October released.
●Earnings: Aetna, BP, LinkedIn, Pfizer.