9.7 million have negative home equity

Nearly 10 million Americans remain financially trapped by homes worth less than their mortgage debts.

During the first three months of this year, 18.8 percent of homeowners with a mortgage — 9.7 million — owed more on their loans than their properties would sell for, according to online real estate database Zillow. That was an improvement from the 25.4 percent figure of a year ago.

An additional 18.1 percent of mortgage holders were “effectively” underwater: They had equity, but the proceeds from selling their homes would be too low to recoup the sales costs and also put a down payment on a new property.

Several major U.S. metropolitan areas are stuck with residents who have high rates of negative equity. In Chicago, almost 45 percent are underwater or effectively underwater. The rate is 53.1 percent in Atlanta, 50.6 percent in Las Vegas, 46.6 percent in Charlotte, 44 percent in St. Louis and 43.2 percent in Tampa.

— Associated Press

Petco to stop selling treats made in China

Petco said Tuesday that it will stop selling dog and cat treats made in China by the end of this year due to ongoing fears that the imported treats are making pets sick.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t been able to figure out why pets are getting ill. Since it launched an investigation late last year, the FDA said it received more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses and 1,000 reports of dog deaths after eating Chinese-made chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats. Last week, the FDA said tests found the antiviral drug amantadine in some samples of imported chicken jerky treats sold a year or more ago, but doesn’t think it caused the illnesses. The FDA said it will continue to investigate.

Petco said that shoppers have asked the pet food retailer to stop selling treats from China. Petco said it doesn’t sell any pet food made in China at its 1,300 stores around the country.

— Associated Press

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— From news services

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