Last updated: March 08. 2013 12:02AM - 1466 Views

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Weekender parades new app

The Weekender arts and entertainment weekly paper has launched a new smartphone app for people attending the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday.

The Patrick’s Parade App provides: A full listing of events at local bars; an “around me” function that gives access to food and events listings as well as emergency services; one-touch access to call a cab; links to social media pages of local hot spots; easy upload of pictures to the social media pages; photo galleries; a tip calculator, car finder, list of drinks specials and access to discounts and exclusive offers.

The free app is available in the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace. An app for the March 16 parade in Wilkes-Barre will also be available next week.

Retailers’ gains sluggish

Americans cut back on spending in February as cold weather and economic challenges chilled their appetite for spring merchandise.

The nation’s retailers on Thursday reported that sales slowed in February, a time when most stores get rid of winter merchandise and bring in swimsuits, ankle length pants and other spring fashions.

But Americans spent more judiciously during the month as they contended with an increase in the payroll tax of 2 percentage points, income tax refunds that came later than usual and rising gas prices.

Winter storms throughout much of the country in February also likely made spring merchandise less appealing to them.

Jobless benefit claims fall

New jobless claims dropped last week to 340,000, near a post-Great Recession low, and the less volatile four-week average fell to its lowest level in five years, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The data were another sign of improvement in the labor market ahead of today’s February unemployment report, despite tax increases that took effect on Jan. 1.

Analysts project that the economy added about 160,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate remains at 7.9 percent.

Economists had expected initial jobless claims to rise last week to about 355,000.

Ford minivans being recalled

Ford is recalling 230,000 minivans in 20 cold-weather states and Washington, D.C., to fix rust problems that can cause the third-row seats to come loose.

The company says the recall affects Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans from the 2004 through 2007 model years. They were sold mainly in Canada and U.S. states where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.

Ford said Thursday that rust can weaken the mounting brackets that hold the removable seats to the van floor. The company says no crashes or injuries have been reported from the problem.

Dealers will install new seat mounting brackets, placing them outside of the area that can rust. They’ll also install panels above the rear wheels to prevent water from entering, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said. Owners will be notified of the recall by letter during the last week of March.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the vans from the 2004 model year in December, and added 2005 through 2007 to the probe in April because they all have similar seat designs.

Vans in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Indiana, Michigan, New York, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., are being recalled.

Subaru cars being recalled

Subaru of America is recalling more than 47,000 cars and SUVs with remote starters because the engines can start on their own.

The recall affects some Legacy and Outback cars from the 2010 to 2013 model years. Also covered are the Impreza from 2012 and 2013 and the XV Crosstrek from 2013.

Subaru says that if the key fob is dropped, it can malfunction and start the engine.

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