Air bag problem causes big recall

Six automakers, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan, are recalling nearly 3.4 million
older-model vehicles worldwide because of defective air bags that can send shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment.

The recall mainly affects cars sold by Japanese automakers in North America, Europe and Japan. A small number of cars made by BMW and General Motors also are involved.

The front passenger-side air bags were made by Japan’s Takata Corp., a parts supplier. They have faulty inflator mechanisms that don’t route gas into the air bags. Instead, the high-pressure gas can launch plastic and metal parts from the air bags into the cars’ passenger areas. Takata says no one has been hurt, but there have been six incidents of the air bags deploying improperly on roadways.

Toyota will have to inspect or fix 1.7 million vehicles worldwide, including about 580,000 in North America. Honda is recalling 1.1 million vehicles, including about 680,000 in North America, and Nissan is recalling 480,000, including about 265,000 in the United States. Mazda also is part of the recall; about 45,000 Mazda RX-8 and Mazda 6 cars are affected.

At GM, 55,000 Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks sold in the United States and Canada are being recalled. BMW said it was researching the problem, but no numbers or information on affected models were available.

— Associated Press

Foreclosure notices up sharply in Md.

Foreclosure notices surged last month in states such as Maryland, where courts oversee home seizures, slowing the process and causing prices to lag behind in the U.S. housing recovery, according to RealtyTrac.

Across the country, 152,500 properties received default, auction and repossession notices in March, a decline of 1 percent from the previous month and 23 percent from a year earlier, the Irvine, Calif.-based data seller said Thursday in a report. But “judicial states” such as New York and Maryland, where more time is needed to take property from delinquent borrowers, had a 4 percent gain from March 2012. Notices fell 44 percent in non-judicial states, RealtyTrac said.

Judicial states showed “late-blooming” foreclosures in default data from March, Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, said in an interview. First-time notices tripled in New York and soared 193 percent in Maryland from a year earlier, the biggest gains nationally, according to RealtyTrac.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

l  Cold weather and lingering concerns about the job market dampened shoppers’ enthusiasm and hurt early spring sales at several retailers in March. Costco Wholesale and TJX, parent of T.J. Maxx, were among the companies reporting weaker-than-expected March sales. Michael Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers, and others expect things to improve for retailers. The ICSC forecasts a 2 percent to 3 percent increase in April same-store sales.

l  Officials with a water supplier in Arkansas approved a measure Thursday asking ExxonMobil for a plan to move an oil pipeline away from an area that drains into the main source of drinking water for Little Rock and several other communities. The move by Central Arkansas Water’s Board of Commissioners comes nearly two weeks after ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured and spilled thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock.

l  President Obama emphasized the need to revive the economy and reform immigration and fiscal policy during a White House meeting Thursday with some of the world’s most powerful bankers. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, James Gorman of Morgan Stanley and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America were among those at the meeting. The bankers were members of the Financial Services Forum, which was holding its day-long spring meeting, according to a White House official.

— From news services

Coming Today

l  8:30 a.m.: Producer price index and retail sales data for March released.

l  Earnings: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo