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DailyFinance.com

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    hand holding up sign raise
    Getty Images
    By Chris Metinko

    NEW YORK -- Anyone thinking 2016 could be their year for that big jump in pay likely should temper any excitement.

    New numbers show employers are expected to reward employees with the same 3 percent increase in pay in 2016 that they received this year. For those looking for a silver lining, employers are expecting to give bigger pay raises -- 4.6 percent on average -- to their top performing workers, according to the numbers from consulting firm Towers Watson.

    To a large extent, 3 percent pay raises have become the new norm in corporate America.

    "To a large extent, 3 percent pay raises have become the new norm in corporate America," said Sandra McLellan, North America practice leader at Towers Watson. "We really haven't seen variation from this level for many years."

    "While most organizations are finding the talent they need at current salary levels, we are seeing more employers prioritizing how their salary budgets are being spent, especially in light of their ongoing difficulty in attracting and retaining top performers or employees with critical skills," she added.

    The survey of more than 1,100 U.S. companies showed nearly 90 percent of employees at US companies are eligible to receive annual or short-term bonuses this year, up from 86 percent last year -- and 85 percent received a bonus this year, up from 81 percent in 2014.

    "Unfortunately, it's very rare to get more than a 3 percent annual increase within a company," said Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching. "Companies see a higher employer turnover now than ever with people switching jobs every three to five years. They save their money to recruit new talent."

    Copeland and others, however, suggest there is a way to get that bigger salary increase one may be craving. "Hands down, the best way to significantly grow your salary over time is to be one of those people who consistently switches jobs every three to five years," Copeland said.

    "When you change companies, you are able to negotiate pay again from the beginning," she said. "But, don't take a low salary just to get your foot in the door -- expect 3 percent increases annually at your new job as well."

    Katie Donovan, a negotiation and equal pay consultant at her company Equal Pay Negotiations, agreed that, without a doubt, people get much bigger pay increases when they change jobs. She added with the cost to replace an employee so high, many employees -- even the average employee -- can use this to their benefit.

    For those looking to stay at their jobs, the numbers show it is by far the highest performing workers that see the biggest rewards, with an average salary increase 77 percent larger than the 2.6 percent increase given to workers receiving an average rating. Workers with below-average performance ratings bring up the rear, receiving a salary increase of less than 1 percent.

    "Many organizations are rethinking whether linking base salary increases primarily to last year's performance makes sense or if this should be the role of short-term-incentive and bonus programs," McLellan said.

    Regardless of how a company gives out salary increases, Donovan said now is the time to negotiate next year's pay raise.

    "Budgets for next year tend not to be finalized yet, so there is opportunity," said Donovan. "Do the research, and see what the pay is for your job in your area. Then talk to your boss about being underpaid and show the data.""Do not make any statements about leaving," she reminds. "But ask, 'Well, if you had to hire a new person -- based on this data -- it looks as though you would need to pay them more than I'm making. I'm just looking to earn that amount.' "

     

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    Economy GDP
    David Goldman/AP
    By Jason Lange

    WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer spending grew briskly in August and a key measure of inflation firmed a bit, signs of strength in America's domestic economy that could lead the Federal Reserve to tighten interest rates despite weakness abroad.

    The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending increased 0.4 percent after an upwardly revised 0.4 percent rise in July.

    The figures give a bullish sign for economic growth in the third quarter.

    "These data underscore the ongoing health of the consumer sector," said John Hoff, an economist at RBS Securities.

    The report could help convince investors of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's view, most recently expressed on Thursday, that the economy was strong enough to warrant a rate increase this year. New York Fed President William Dudley also said Monday that a hike was likely this year and could come as soon as October.

    Investors have been doubtful, with many betting that the Fed's first rate increase in a decade won't come until March.

    But the U.S. dollar firmed following the consumer spending report, as did yields on U.S. government debt, signs that some investors were bringing forward their bets on a rate increase.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending rising 0.3 percent last month. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

    It was the latest report indicating momentum in the economy as it confronted recent global financial markets turbulence, sparked by concerns over a slowing Chinese economy, which pushed the Fed to hold off hiking rates earlier in September.

    The economy grew at a robust 3.9 percent annual rate in the second quarter.

    Last month, spending on long-lasting goods such as automobiles increased 0.9 percent. Outlays on services like utilities rose 0.5 percent.

    Personal income increased 0.3 percent in August.

    Overall inflation remained muted, reflecting low oil prices. Inflation, which has persistently run below the Fed's 2 percent target in annual terms, rose just 0.3 percent in August from the same month a year earlier.

    However, prices were up 1.3 percent when excluding food and energy, a key metric used by the Fed to gauge the trend rate of inflation. In July, core prices rose 1.2 percent year-over-year.

    Despite the positive signals for consumer spending, the U.S. housing market appeared to loose a step last month, with contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes falling 1.4 percent.

     

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    Alcoa to Split Into Two Companies

    By Nick Carey

    CHICAGO -- Alcoa (AA) said Monday it will split into two companies to separate its struggling aluminum smelting operations from production of lightweight metals for its faster-growing aerospace and automotive business.

    The news sparked a rally in Alcoa's shares, which were up nearly 6 percent at $9.60 in premarket trading.

    Falling commodity prices and a glut of aluminum have battered Alcoa stock, which before the news, had fallen more than 42 percent this year.

    The split will separate the cyclical commodity business that excels during demand upswings from a high-technology business benefiting from rising demand for new alloys and titanium for planes and automobiles.

    The split is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016. The traditional aluminum business will retain the Alcoa name, while the newer company, which Alcoa said would have higher value products, is still unnamed.

    "We are interested in creating value for our customers, for our shareholders, for our employees, and at this point this is the option we see that creates the biggest value," Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld told Reuters.

    The commodity business was a significant drag, not only on valuation but on the resources of the company.

    Josh Sullivan, an analyst with Sterne Agee CRT, said Alcoa had already been in the process of a transition, including its recent acquisition of RTI International Metals.

    "The commodity business was a significant drag, not only on valuation but on the resources of the company," Sullivan said.

    In a conference call with analysts Alcoa said that as of Dec. 31, its pension was underfunded by about $3.3 billion.

    Executives said as the company works out the details of the split it will allocate debt and pension liabilities "in a manner that is prudent for the two businesses to have the balance sheet" Alcoa is targeting.

    Regarding credit ratings, Alcoa said it is targeting investment grade for its "value-added" business and "strong non-investment grade" for its legacy business.

    The company has bet on growth from higher-margin titanium and high-strength aluminum sales to the aerospace industry, as its order book swells for airplane production and amid renewed global spending on automobiles.

    Still, efforts by the world's third-largest producer of aluminum to address the diverging trends had given conflicting messages for investors, according to sources close to the company.

    The split is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016 and the traditional aluminum firm will retain the name Alcoa, the company said.

    Kleinfeld will be chief executive of the new, unnamed entity and will remain chairman of Alcoa throughout the transition period.

    "We believe both entities have gotten into a shape that they are competitive and sizeable and they can stand on their own," Kleinfeld said.

    The company didn't provide a timeline for choosing a CEO for Alcoa after the split. The division of the company doesn't need shareholder approval, sources familiar with the matter said.

    The company's financial advisers are Morgan Stanley (MS) and Greenhill & Co. The legal adviser for the split is Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

    -Lewis Krauskopf contributed reporting.

     

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    Volkswagen
    Frank Augstein/APFormer Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn
    By GEIR MOULSON and DAVID RISING

    BERLIN -- German prosecutors opened an investigation Monday against former Volkswagen (VLKAY) CEO Martin Winterkorn to establish what his role was in the emissions-rigging scandal that has shaken the world's largest automaker.

    The investigation will concentrate on the suspicion of fraud committed through the sale of vehicles with manipulated emissions data, and aims to determine who was responsible, prosecutors in Braunschweig said in a statement.

    In the German system, anyone can file a criminal complaint with prosecutors, who are then obliged to examine it and decide whether there is enough evidence to open a formal investigation.

    In this case, following the revelations about the rigged tests, prosecutors in Braunschweig, near VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg, received about a dozen complaints, including one from Volkswagen itself, said spokeswoman Julia Meyer.

    This is a very broad case and in other such investigations it has taken many months, sometimes years.

    She said it was too early to say if and when prosecutors may try and interview Winterkorn himself, and that she didn't know whether he already had an attorney to represent him.

    She said at this stage, she couldn't estimate how long the investigation would last.

    "This is a very broad case and in other such investigations it has taken many months, sometimes years," she said.

    Winterkorn, Volkswagen's CEO since 2007, resigned Wednesday -- days after the world's top-selling carmaker admitted that it had rigged diesel emissions to pass U.S. tests during his tenure. He said that he was going "in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part."

    Under German law, it isn't possible to bring charges against a company, only against individuals. Meyer wouldn't elaborate on specifics of the investigation, and it wasn't clear what Winterkorn's suspected role might be. There was no immediate comment from Volkswagen on the prosecutors' decision.

    Fraud can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years in Germany.

    The head of VW's Porsche division, Matthias Mueller, was appointed Friday as Volkswagen's new CEO. He promised to do everything to win back the public's trust.

    The company has admitted that it used a piece of engine software to cheat on diesel car emissions tests in the U.S. It will have to fix programming it has said is in some 11 million cars worldwide, far more than the 482,000 originally identified by U.S. authorities.

    Details on what cars are involved have emerged gradually. The group, which has 12 marques in all, said Friday that some 5 million cars made by its core Volkswagen brand had the diesel engine in question.

    On Monday, Audi said that 2.1 million of its vehicles also had the engine, while Czech-based Skoda said 1.2 million vehicles were affected.

    Volkswagen shares, which were pummeled early last week before recovering some ground, headed south again Monday. They were down 7.1 percent in afternoon Frankfurt trading at 107.40 euros ($120.20).

     

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    Shutterstock
    Plenty of stocks go up and down in any given week. The gainers inspire us to keep investing. The decliners keep greed in check while reminding us about the risks of the equity markets.

    Let's go over some of last week's best and worst performers.

    Bellerophon Therapeutics (BLPH) -- Up 59 percent last week

    The market's biggest gainer last week was once again a biotech company. Bellerophon took top honors after a study showed encouraging results for its pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment. The mid-stage clinical trials were effective for treating patients with high blood pressure.

    Coca-Cola Bottling (COKE) -- Up 14 percent last week

    Things got fizzy for Coca-Cola's (KO) largest independent bottler after it spearheaded a consolidation plan. Coca-Cola Bottling struck a deal with Coca-Cola to purchase a few manufacturing facilities as well as some franchise distribution territories that it didn't already own.

    The new supply system will streamline domestic operations, and the market clearly likes what that means for Coca-Cola Bottling. It was also a good week for shares of Coca-Cola itself, but the world's leading beverage company saw its stock only move 2 percent higher on the week.

    Jabil Circuit (JBL) -- Up 11 percent last week

    Shares of the electronics manufacturer got charged up after it posted encouraging preliminary quarterly results. Jabil posted better-than-expected financials, and it also boosted its guidance for the current quarter.

    Jabil's strong report bodes well for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 6s. Jabil is a contract manufacturer for Apple components and its encouraging outlook suggests that Apple is ramping up its production.

    Sientra (SIEN) -- Down 50 percent last week

    Investing in Sientra proved to be a bust last week after the maker of breast implants and breast tissue expanders was derailed overseas. The U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency suspended certification of its Silimed-branded products in Europe.

    Sientra sent a letter to its plastic surgeon clients, explaining that the move has no bearing on its stateside operations. Its products remain regulated and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but investors clearly feel that the negative knock overseas could hurt sales closer to home.

    Pier 1 Imports (PIR) -- Down 23 percent last week

    Shares of Pier 1 shed nearly a quarter of their value after the home furnishings retailer posted disappointing quarterly results. Sales rose a mere 3 percent since the prior year, and most of that growth has come from its online retail initiatives. Store activities -- a combination of in-store sales and online orders either placed or picked up at the store -- clocked in flat.

    Pier 1 also saw margins contract as it ramped up promotional and clearance activities to eat away at its excessive inventory of outdoor furniture. Pier 1's profit of 4 cents a share was a little more than half as much as analysts were expecting.

    Caesars Entertainment (CZR) -- Down 22 percent last week

    Betting against the house continues to be the smartest wager when it comes to Caesars Entertainment. The casino operator took a hit after reports surfaced claiming that the casino operator was at an impasse with its creditors.

    Caesars is trying to avoid filing for bankruptcy, just as it continued to defend the bankruptcy of one of its subsidiaries. Caesars has big plans of restructuring itself into a company that includes spinning off its real estate holdings into an income-producing real estate investment trust, or REIT, but it won't get there on its own terms if it can't get creditors to play along.

    Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool is short Caesars Entertainment and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola, short January 2016 $43 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.

     

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    Stocks Close Down Day After Federal Reserve Leaves interest Rate Unchanged
    Spencer Platt/Getty Images
    By Noel Randewich

    NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks finished sharply lower Monday and were on track for their worst quarter in four years as investors worried about the health of China's economy and its potential impact on the timing of a U.S. interest rate increase.

    The Nasdaq composite lost 3 percent and S&P 500 dropped more than 2 percent.

    Much of the damage came from pharmaceutical and biotech stocks, including Allergan (ACT) and Gilead Sciences (GILD), with the sector still bleeding a week after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized drug pricing.

    The broad health care sector and China are hurting the market.

    Following its worst week in seven years, the Nasdaq biotechnology index fell 6 percent, its worst one-day drop since 2011. Among the S&P sectors, the health care index was the deepest decliner, down 3.84 percent.

    "The broad health care sector and China are hurting the market. It's time for risk-off and there's no place to hide," said Richard Weeks, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Vienna, Virginia.

    Profits at Chinese industrial companies fell 8.8 percent, fresh data showed, pushing down shares of raw material producers and energy companies. Oil prices fell more than 2 percent.

    U.S. consumer spending rose more than expected in August, according to another report, appearing to add to the case for an interest rate increase this year.

    But contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes decreased, indicating the robust housing market could be losing some steam.

    The Federal Reserve held off from raising rates at its September meeting, citing concerns about the global economy, notably China, among other factors.

    New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley on Monday suggested the central bank could pull the trigger as soon as October.

    'Confused' Central Bank

    "A lot of investors think the Fed is confused," said Mohannad Aama, Managing Director at Beam Capital Management. "They're putting themselves in a corner by saying they expect to raise rates between now and the end of the year when the economy every day is proving otherwise."

    Several other Fed officials are scheduled to speak during the week, including Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday.

    Investors will also scrutinize September non-farm payrolls data Friday.

    The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 1.9 percent to end at 16,001.89 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) lost 2.6 percent to 1,881.77 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 3 percent to finish at 4,543.97.

    Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said the Fed's low interest rates are creating bubbles in markets for art, property and "junk" bonds, in a video to be released Tuesday.

    Alcoa (AA) shares jumped 5.7 percent after the aluminum producer said it would split into two publicly traded companies.

    The largest drag on the S&P 500, Apple (AAPL) fell 1.97 percent despite reporting that it sold a record number of its new iPhones in their first weekend.

    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,796 to 316. On the Nasdaq, 2,397 issues fell and 452 advanced. The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and 80 lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 358 lows.

    About 8.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.2 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data.

    -With additional reporting from Abhiram Nandakumar and Sweta Singh in Bangalore, and Sinead Carew in New York.

    What to watch Tuesday:
    • Standard & Poor's releases S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for July at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
    • The Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for September at 10 a.m.
    • Costco Wholesale (COST) releases quarterly financial results after U.S. markets close.

     

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    bread shaped cutting board with ...
    Shutterstock
    By Krystal Steinmetz

    On the surface, it may seem that frugality is the best way to live your life if you're looking to save yourself some green.

    But penny-pinching doesn't always play out how you intended, and it can actually end up hurting you financially and otherwise, according to U.S. News & World Report.

    Here are five times when you may want to rethink your penny-pinching ways:
    • Used baby products: Although it may seem appealing to save yourself some cash by purchasing a used baby's crib, car seat or highchair on the cheap, it's probably not a good, nor safe, idea. "The highchair you found at a garage sale or thrift store may look sturdy, but for all you know, it was recalled three years ago because the screws sometimes come loose," U.S. News said. You may want to splurge on a new crib and car seat for your little one and look to save money on other baby items, like gently used baby clothes or bedding.
    • Lowest premium health insurance: Sure, it's better to have a low premium health insurance than to be uninsured, but there's a potential cost to that cheap coverage. "If you end up paying more for doctor's visits, or even worse, skipping visits because you don't like the in-network health care providers, then that cheap policy will cost you," U.S. News said. Check out "10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Health Insurance."
    • Not saving -- or not saving enough -- for the golden years: Everyone knows it's important to save for retirement. Although you may be tempted to skimp on retirement savings in your early working years, you could be cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars each year, especially if your employer is willing to match your retirement contributions. Click here to see if you're saving enough money for retirement.
    • Buying cheap shoes: If you're a penny-pincher who hates to spend big bucks on shoes, consider this: Cheap shoes have the potential to cause foot problems, like blisters and calluses. They also tend to fall apart faster, U.S. News said. You'd probably be better off spending a little more to get a decent pair of shoes the first time around.
    • Leasing a car: Although leasing a vehicle initially may seem like a money-saving option compared with purchasing a car, U.S. News noted that when the lease is up, that's it. You don't own the car, so you have nothing to show for all your car payments. Check out "Does It Ever Make Sense to Lease a Car."
    Has being frugal ever backfired on you? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

    Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free!


    Things Worth Paying More For

     

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    Elderly woman taking money from coin purse
    Getty ImagesDon't let the fear of outliving your savings prevent you from enjoying retirement.
    By David Ning

    One prominent retirement fear is outliving your retirement savings. But this common concern seldom happens, because there are plenty of ways to adjust your spending and tighten your belt when the markets take a dive. Here's why you aren't likely to completely run out of money in retirement.

    Spending has been going up and down all your life. No one actually spends a constant amount adjusted for inflation every year. You sometimes get big expense years, such as when you decide to change your car. Other years, you are too busy to take a vacation and you naturally spend less. Spending will fluctuate, which means you can easily tighten and loosen your purse strings as long as you pay attention.

    Some types of expenses may decrease during market panics. An economic decline may cause some things to drop in price. For example, many types of home repairs cost less during the financial crisis. There wasn't enough work to go around and prices fell. Traveling was also much cheaper than usual for a few years. A general decline in prices can work wonders for retirees on a fixed income because their expenses will decrease even if they don't do anything to change their lifestyle.

    Some of your expenses will decline over time. Some expenses decrease due to new products introduced into the marketplace. For example, technology often becomes cheaper once an innovation is a few years old. If you are willing to put in a little time, you can also find other ways to save money on essential services. Sometimes spending less simply means avoiding new products that you have never tried before. This isn't nearly as bad as having to give up services you are already accustomed to.

    Social Security is adjusted for inflation. Social Security provides an income floor for almost every older person in our country. For example, let's say you retired and an event along the lines of the great recession happens again, wiping out half your equity values. If your asset allocation is 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds, you might lose 30 percent of your portfolio value. Now, let's assume that 35 percent of your spending is covered by Social Security. Since Social Security doesn't get cut when the markets dive, you just need to cut 30 percent from the portion of income that comes from your investments, which is actually only a 19.5 percent pay cut. A 19.5 percent drop in spending power is still drastic, but it's manageable due to the unwavering income you receive from Social Security. Plus, delaying big purchases and trips for a year or two is likely to help you make significant progress spending less until your investments have time to recover.

    You can get an annuity, even at an advanced age. If you are certain you never want to reduce your expenses in retirement, you can purchase an annuity that provides another guaranteed stream of income. For example, let's say you are 80 and your portfolio is only worth a fraction of what it was worth when you retired. You could use your savings to purchase an immediate annuity that will provide monthly payments for the rest of your life. If you only annuitize a small amount of savings, the payments might not be large, but they can be set up to continue for as long as you live and won't decline due to stock market drops.

    Safe withdrawal rates are calculated to survive the worst. An annual withdrawal rate of 3 or 4 percent of your savings each year has been calculated to survive the worst stock market period in history. Your retirement could span several decades, and there will probably be declines during that period. No one knows what stock valuations and interest rates will be 10 or 15 years from now. But a conservative withdrawal rate and some cutbacks in spending during years in which the market performs especially poorly is likely to allow your money to last for the rest of your life.

    You need to live a long life for your money to run out. While we all like to think we will live until age 100, few of us do. While there's certainly the possibility that you will outlive your portfolio assets, you can always cut your expenses or adjust your spending to account for what turns out to be an exceptionally long life span. Plus, you will still have Social Security payments coming in, so you are looking at a very small chance that your money will ever completely run out.

    David Ning is the founder of MoneyNing.com.

     

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    Fox's
    Getty ImagesThe cast and crew of "Empire" at The Theatre at The Ace Hotel in March.

    Traditionally, fall premiere week for broadcast television networks has been a sparkling time of peak sampling as millions upon millions of viewers tune-in to new and returning shows.

    Save for 16 million viewers gobbling up Fox (FOXA) hip-hop drama "Empire" last week for its second season premiere, a more than 60 percent leap in total viewership since its series debut of 9.9 million viewers in January, according to Nielsen stats, this year's fall premiere week not only experienced sagging ratings, but fewer male millennial viewers. New primetime shows, from Fox's Tuesday sorority spoof "Scream Queens" with a 1.7 Nielsen rating in the 18-to-49 adult demographic to Comcast-owned (CMCSA) NBC's Thursday drama "The Player" with a 1.2 rating, fell limp.

    So what are some major reasons TV viewing is down?

    Appointment TV is dead. It's a challenge for the industry.

    For one, glut. An estimated 400 scripted shows are expected to be broadcast on TV and online services such as Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon.com (AMZN), up from 211 on the air in 2009, according to The New York Times. Experts say a glut of TV content and viewing platforms as well as a varied range of good and bad shows have thinned out linear TV audiences. "Appointment TV is dead. It's a challenge for the industry," said Jim O'Neill, a principal analyst at online video technology company Ooyala, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Australian telecommunications and IT services company Telstra (TLSYY). "It's not just a situation where [over-the-top content] is the future. OTT is now. The amount of time on live TV is going down, and the amount of DVR TV is going up, and the OTT option is going up. I don't think network TV will ever be the same."

    O'Neill, who said he grew up before cable TV, when just nine channels existed, sees 2015 as presenting a grander array of choices, both well-written and not. According to Ad Age and Nielsen stats, not only was TV viewing among adults 18 to 24 down 20 percent compared to the first two nights of the 2014 to 2015 season, but male viewership within that age group plunged by about a quarter.

    Disney's (DIS) ABC scored OK with its series premiere Tuesday of the documentary-style reboot "The Muppets," averaging 8.9 million viewers, but critics panned the show. The New York Post called it a betrayal of late original Muppets creator Jim Henson's "tender, optimistic vision -- a pointless prostitution of a children's entertainment franchise." Loosely based on the 2002 film, Fox's new sci-fi drama "Minority Report" scored a measly 1.1 rating among 18-to-49 adult viewers. Yahoo blasted it as "alternately bad and laughably bad."

    Returning shows also suffered. The season premiere of CBS's (CBS) "NCIS: LA" earned its lowest ratings yet, a 1.2 among adults, with roughly 7.89 million viewers, compared to last year's premiere of a 1.9 adults rating. ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder," whose star Viola Davis snagged an Emmy this month, premiered its second season with a 2.6 rating among adults, and about 9 million viewers. That's down from a 3.8 rating when the series premiered last fall, drawing an impressive 14 million viewers.

    Swift Impact

    Secondly, mobile. With streaming options, cable TV options such as Time Warner-owner (TWX) juggernaut Emmys winner HBO and content viewed through cellphones and tablets, the changing media landscape is having a swift impact. According to Ooyala's recently released Q2 2015 Global Video Index report, 44 percent of all online viewing is now on mobile devices, increasingly preferred by younger consumers.

    "The golden crescent of TV viewers is millennial men, and they don't want to be told what to watch," said O'Neill, whose own 25- and 27-year-old sons watch everything from HBO and Showtime to Netflix and Amazon on mobile devices. "They're fine with waiting a year to watch "The Walking Dead." TV is still important to them, but it's on their terms, and that's the big difference."

    Networks taking advantage of technology and social media buzz can only help boost viewership, added USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism assistant professor David Craig, also an Emmy-nominated producer and former programming executive at Disney's A&E and Lifetime.

    "Empire," the golden child of fall premiere week, with a massive following on Twitter (TWTR) , is the best example of a network doing something right. "If you look at the most successful show on broadcast TV right now, it's 'Empire,' " said Craig. "Creator Lee Daniels was given full license to make the show he wanted to make. The broadcast networks should adopt a creator-centric model for programming. It's also about building a community in advance, with social media."

    Thirdly, social media.

    Millennials immersed in social media is changing the way certain shows become popular while others die on the vine. The migration to HBO and Netflix has now extended to interactive online video and visuals sharing venues such as Snapchat, IAC's (IACI) Vimeo and Facebook's (FB) Instagram, said Craig. Ten years after it first launched, Google's (GOOGL) YouTube has more than 1,500 channels.

    "Millennials are now participating in a media ecology. It no longer just represents their lives," Craid said. "They're interacting in the space. That's further enticing millennials away from linear television. People are migrating from users to creators. It's a radical change."

     

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  • 09/28/15--22:00: 14 Best Deals at 7-Eleven
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    AUSTRALIA-RETAIL-7ELEVEN-WORKERS
    Peter Parks, AFP/Getty Images
    By Elyssa Kirkham

    One of the most popular reasons to stop at a 7-Eleven is to fuel up when you're on the go -- for cheap. This convenience store chain offers low prices and great deals. But which items at 7-Eleven are guaranteed to be a good buy? What are some of the best ways to save money at 7-Eleven?

    Here's a look at the best deals you can expect to find at your local 7-Eleven store as well as some money-saving tips:

    1. 7-Eleven coffee. If all you want is a hot cup of coffee that delivers your daily dose of caffeine, 7-Eleven will do it for a lot less than your local coffeehouse. A 24-ounce Stay-Hot Cup at 7-Eleven is priced at just $1.55 for a limited time only. That's less than what you would pay for about the same amount of coffee at Starbucks with a venti freshly brewed coffee priced at $2.35.

    And while you probably can't expect to get a handcrafted latte at 7-Eleven, the coffee bars usually include a wide range of flavored creamers, syrups and other add-ins to help jazz up your convenience-store coffee.

    2. Breakfast sandwiches. If you need breakfast, consider a cheaper option from 7-Eleven. The convenience store offers a variety of breakfast sandwiches, but perhaps its best deal is the $2 price for a sausage biscuit and any size of coffee. This is well under the cost of a sausage biscuit with egg from McDonald's breakfast menu ($2.79) and half the cost of a sausage biscuit with egg meal.

    Of course, the 7-Eleven version doesn't come with egg, but it's still a comparable option at a much lower price -- especially if your aim is to load up on caffeine over calories.

    3. Bottled beverages. Beverages are a popular item at 7-Eleven, and the deals are frequent. One such discount spotted at my 7-Eleven location recently was an offer to get two 18.5-ounce bottles of Pure Leaf brand of brewed tea for only $2.22.

    A similar deal had 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola products marked down from their regular price of $2.29 each to two for $3.33 -- just $1.67 each. The same two-liter bottles ring in at $2.19 each at my local grocery store.

    4. Big gulps. If you want to how to save money on soda, however, a fountain drink will get you much more bang for your buck. The signature 7-Eleven Big Gulp is known to be as cheap as 99 cents for 32 ounces.

    5. Slurpees. One of 7-Eleven's most recognizable offerings, the Slurpee is a big draw for many fans of the convenience store. Buying a Slurpee from 7-Eleven is one of the easy ways to save money on a cool, summer treat. The chain knows this and uses it to its advantage to get you in the door with Slurpee deals, like a recent offer to buy one Slurpee and get a second one free.

    6. 7-Eleven's candy aisle. To satisfy a sweet-tooth craving for less, head to 7-Eleven's candy aisle. Its standard-sized candies are typically priced around $1.39, which is less than prices at one local grocery store that sells standard candy bars for $1.49 each.

    7. 7-Select brand treats.The deals are even sweeter if you pick candies from the convenience store's signature brand, 7-Select. This brand sells sour neon gummy worms for just 32 cents an ounce, compared with the Trolli brand at 45 cents an ounce at 7-Eleven. A bag of Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers comes up to $1.89, but the 7-Select variety is priced 30 percent lower at just $1.29.

    Similarly, the 7-Select sleeve of mini chocolate donuts costs $1.39, well below the Hostess Donettes' price of $1.99 at 7-Eleven.

    8. Mix-and-match deals. 7-Eleven usually has mix-and-match deals that offer savings on candies. For instance, snackers can buy two standard-sized candies for $2.49. With these candies regularly priced at $1.39, that's an overall savings of 29 cents. The savings are even better on king-sized candies, which are priced at two for $3.49 -- a savings of 49 cents when buying two for the regular price of $1.99 each.

    9. Exclusive offers with the 7-Eleven app. As every savvy shopper knows, one of the best tips on saving money is to stay updated on the latest deals and offers. You can do that at 7-Eleven by signing up for the 7-Eleven app and 7Rewards.

    Text "EARN" to 711711, and you'll get a link to download the 7-Eleven app to get access to its 7Rewards loyalty program. The 7-Eleven app can also score you exclusive deals and offers when you scan the app barcode at every checkout. In August, the retailer ran a promotion that offered free Butterfinger candy bars to those who used the app.

    10. 7Rewards' 7th cup free. If you're a loyal 7-Eleven patron, you should definitely be taking advantage of its 7Rewards program to get any seventh cup free. Set up a 7Rewards account through the 7-Eleven app, then simply scan the barcode of each beverage you buy with your loyalty account. After you purchase any six beverages, your seventh drink is free. Any 7-Eleven beverage counts, including coffee, fountain drinks, Slurpees and hot chocolate.

    11. Big Bite hot dogs. One of the best deals at 7-Eleven are its Big Bite hot dogs, mostly because they come with unlimited toppings for free. Load up on chili, cheese and other tasty toppings, and you can easily double the calories without adding anything to your cost. Plus, you can cheaply upgrade it to a meal with the Big Bite and Big Gulp combo, which is a steal at just $2.

    12. Beer. When it comes to beer, 7-Eleven's prices keep pace with what you'd expect to pay at a local grocery store. So if you need extra beer in the middle of a sports match or to pregame before a night out with friends, you can pick up some brews at 7-Eleven guilt-free knowing you're not paying a premium just because it's convenient.

    If you're picking up individual servings, like standalone bottles or cans, you'll probably pay less than you might elsewhere. 7-Eleven's $2.29 price for a 25-ounce can of Budweiser, for instance, beat out a local grocery store's price of $2.79 by 50 cents. The savings are even better if your 7-Eleven has a deal, like the mix-and-match offer I spotted at my local store that prices two 25-ounce cans of brands like Coors and Budweiser for just $4.

    13. Premium ice creams. If you're craving a pint of ice cream, 7-Eleven locations often have a decent selection of premium ice cream brands in its freezers. The convenience store prices ice cream similarly to what you'd pay at a grocery store, but if you find a deal, you might pay much less.

    While my local grocery store has my favorite Haagen-Dazs flavor for $5.89, a local 7-Eleven is offering a two-for-$7.99 deal that puts the price of a pint at just $3.99.

    14. Exclusive deals with big brands. Lastly, one of the best deals to watch for at 7-Eleven are the products you can only get at this chain. For example, Doritos has partnered with 7-Eleven to offer the Doritos Loaded nacho cheese snacks. Last summer, 7-Eleven was the only place you could buy the summer tropical flavors of Red Bull, which Red Bull has since expanded to its regular line of flavors after they proved to be a hit with customers.

    And right now, 7-Eleven is exclusively selling Monster Energy Pipeline Punch and even offers a two-for-$4 deal on this flavor.

    This story, 14 Best 7-Eleven Deals, originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com.

     

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    Money with a pen and a calculator on a calendar
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    By Tim Lemke

    Dividends, which are quarterly payments made by companies to shareholders, can be a very cool thing. Who doesn't love the idea of getting free money just for owning a stock?

    Shares of companies with solid dividends can be an important part of any investment portfolio, and some of the nation's most iconic companies have a track record of paying solid dividends to shareholders every quarter. But there are many cases where a dividend stock should be avoided. Here are eight times to stay away from dividend stocks.

    1. When You're Seeking Growth

    Dividends are nice when you're seeking income, but often, companies pay high dividend yields because they can't offer investors much share growth. If you are young and have a long way to retirement, it should be growth you're seeking. Real estate investment trusts and utilities are examples of companies that pay good dividends and offer stability, but little in the way of share price upside.

    2. When a Yield Is High Because the Price Is Low

    If you look at a list of stocks with the best dividend yields, it will often include a number of struggling companies. A low stock price isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're getting a bargain, but beware of investing in companies that are dealing with major operational problems with no clear path to improvement. If a company continues to struggle, it may cut its dividend, anyway.

    3. When the Company Would Be Better Off Not Offering Dividends

    It's nice to get a dividend, but sometimes you'd rather see the company use that money to invest in the business, expand, or make acquisitions. A young technology firm, for instance, would probably be better off not paying a dividend.

    4. When You Are Using a Tax-Deferred Account

    If you have your retirement savings in a traditional IRA account, your earnings upon withdrawal are taxed at the ordinary income rate. This includes dividends that you may have accumulated over time. If you have dividend stocks in a taxable brokerage account, you pay the the prevailing dividend tax rate instead, which is usually lower. And any gain -- including dividends -- from stocks in a Roth IRA aren't taxed at all upon withdrawal when you retire.

    5. When a Company Is Low on Cash

    Generally speaking, investors like to see a company pay for its dividends and capital expenditures with cash on hand. Sometimes a company needs to borrow to meet these obligations, and that's a red flag that the company may have to cut its dividend down the road. Read a company's balance sheet to determine its cash flow situation, then figure out if the dividend is sustainable.

    6. When the Stock Is Too Pricey for the Dividend

    Dividends are nice, but there's very little point to paying $100 a share for a 25 cent-a-share annual dividend. Under this scenario, you're only getting a dividend yield of 0.25 percent -- hardly a king's ransom. But if the stock is trading at $40 and the dividend is $1, you'll have a much nicer yield of 2.5 percent.

    7. When Interest Rates Are High

    Dividend stocks can be very popular when interest rates are low, because they can offer a better return than cash saved in the bank. Why keep your cash in the bank getting less than 1 percent interest annually when you can get 3.35 percent by investing in Coca-Cola? But the opposite is also true. At various times in history, bank interest has exceeded most dividend yields. High interest rates can also be a killer for Real Estate Investment Trusts, which are impacted by the housing market and have some of the market's highest dividends.

    8. When There's No Record of Dividend Growth

    It's tempting to be drawn to the current yield of a dividend stock, but it's better to examine whether the company has a history of increasing its dividend on a regular basis. A company's true health will shine through if it can routinely make dividend payments and even boost those payments every year. So-called "dividend aristocrats" are those firms that have increased dividends each year for 25 straight years, and the list includes many of the most prized blue chip stocks including Coca-Cola (KO), AT&T (T), Walmart (WMT) and Exxon Mobil (XOM).

    Do you have any dividend stocks in your portfolio?

     

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    A promotional event by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is seen in the South Street Seaport in New York
    AlamyA Keurig coffee machine at an event by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in New York.
    By CANDICE CHOI

    Making a glass of Coke at home will soon be possible, if you don't mind paying more than $300 for a machine that sits on your kitchen countertop. Plus an extra dollar or so per drink.

    Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) says it will start selling a machine Tuesday that makes single servings of cold beverages including Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper and flavored seltzer waters. The machine is similar in concept to Keurig's brewers, which let people make cups of coffee and tea by inserting a pod into the machine and pressing a button.

    Coca-Cola (KO) is betting big on Keurig Kold, too; the world's biggest soda maker owns a 16.8 percent stake in Keurig Green Mountain.

    Still, it's not yet clear who will buy the Keurig Kold, which is the size of a very large crockpot. Keurig says the suggested retail price for the machine is $369.99, but that prices could be as low as $299 depending on promotions. Each pod will cost between $1.12 and $1.25 and make an 8-ounce serving. That means it's not really a way to save money, since people can buy 2-liter bottles and 6-pack cans of soda for less, on a per-serving basis.

    keurig green mountain coca cola soda machine
    Keurig Green Mountain via APThe Keurig Kold machine and single serving pods.
    Instead, Keurig CEO Brian Kelley said Kold is a way for people to have a variety of drinks at their disposal, without having cans and bottles take up space in their homes. Among the other drinks the machine can make are "craft" sodas made by Keurig, and later this year, cocktail mixers.

    "It's a premium -- it's about choice and convenience," Kelley said.

    The idea of making sodas and other drinks at home isn't new. SodaStream International (SODA) also sells a carbonation machine that makes seltzer and other flavored drinks. But its machine differs from the Keurig Kold.

    With SodaStream, people fill a bottle with water and press down on a button to carbonate the liquid. They can add as much carbonation and flavoring as they want. A complaint among some users is that the carbonation comes from a CO2 canister, which needs to be replaced every several weeks or so, depending on how often it's used.

    The Keurig Kold, by contrast, is more controlled. People fill the machine's water tank, then insert a pod to create a specific drink, such as Coke. The pods have two chambers -- one with the carbonation, and one with the syrup or flavor. The machine makes the drink in about 90 seconds or less, chilling the water in the process.

    In addition to its high price, Phil Terpolilli at Wedbush Securities thinks a barrier to Kold's popularity will be that soda is already so widely available.

    "The consumer can already can go into a fridge and crack open a Diet Coke," Terpolilli said.

    Still, Keurig thinks its Kold machine could eventually be bigger than its coffee brewers, which it says are in about 17 percent of U.S. households. In addition to going on sale on its website Tuesday, the company says the Kold will be available starting in October at select retailers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York.

    Those who don't want another machine taking up space on their countertop might want to wait a few years; Keurig says it's working on a machine that could make both hot and cold drinks.

     

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    Home Prices
    Nick Ut/AP
    By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

    WASHINGTON -- U.S. home prices rose at a solid pace in July, as would-be buyers competed for a diminished supply of available housing.

    The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 5 percent in July from a year earlier. That's up from a 4.9 percent annual pace in June.

    Home prices rose in all 20 cities over the past 12 months. San Francisco posted the biggest gain of 10.4 percent, followed by Denver with 10.3 percent.

    Steady job growth and an economic recovery in its seventh year have encouraged more Americans to buy homes. That lifted sales to an eight-year high in July. Yet those buyers have bid up prices in many areas because the number of homes for sale remains below levels that are typical in a balanced market.

    The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The July figures are the latest available.

    Consistent price gains can make homeowners feel wealthier and more likely to spend, providing a boost to the economy. Higher home values also reduce the number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, a condition known as being "under water."

    Still, housing faces several challenges in the coming months. Prices are rising at more than double the rate of wages, which have increased just 2.2 percent in the past 12 months. That is likely pricing many would-be buyers out of the market.

    And while mortgage rates are still very low by historical standards, they could be headed up soon. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has indicated that the Fed may raise short-term rates for the first time in nine years before the end of the year. That would eventually push up mortgage rates.

    Those trends may already be weighing on sales of existing homes. They slid nearly 5 percent in August from July's eight-year high to the lowest level since April, the National Association of Realtors said last week.

    And fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in August. That suggests sales may slip further in the coming months. A signed contract typically precedes a completed sale by one or two months. Still, existing home sales are 6.2 percent higher than a year ago.

     

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    Stacks of coins growing in flowerpots
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    There is a big percentage of Americans who don't like complex financial problems. It's why things get crazy around tax season. It's why personal debt and credit are out of control for many. And it's why so many Americans don't invest for their retirement. Sure, there are plenty of people who rightly say they don't have the extra money to invest. But I suspect that these people are actually in the minority. With careful planning, it's possible for most people to invest in such a way that -- at least -- they will be somewhat financially secure upon retirement.

    The problem is, learning how to invest well is a challenge. It takes time, research and a little daring. There's a lot of conflicting information out there. And events like the recent Chinese stock crash don't help matters. Many people are simply intimidated by investment, enough that they keep all of their money insulated from its peaks and valleys.

    It's true that global markets are volatile. I was one of the millions of people who saw my IRA suddenly lose 10 percent of its value overnight this past month. But I also understand that this is all part of the plan. Long term investment strategy is built upon a foundation that is stronger than temporary market fluctuations. If new investors understand this, they can make a plan which will carry them for the long term. Here are some considerations to make when formulating your first investment strategy, as well as reasons why now is a great time to do so.

    Invest Now, but Not Because the Market is Down

    Somebody somewhere once said, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." The same goes for investing. The stock market is inherently unpredictable. This has been proven by thinkers and analysts all around the world. People who try to get their money invested in anticipation of a sudden rise are gambling. I've heard it compared to trying to catch a falling knife: you might catch it unscathed, or you might really hurt yourself. One way to invest in a growing market as a whole, is through ETFs (cheaply priced shares of mutual funds). The best way to invest in mutual funds or ETFs is whenever you have money. The market will rise and fall, but it has a tendency to grow over time. Most new investors will need to adopt a strategy of slow, steady growth. If you've never invested, invest now. Once invested, stick to your plan.

    Choose Funds That Take the Guesswork Out of Investing

    There are some investors who are famous for getting rich by hand picking winning stocks. These people are either professionals or lucky -- probably both. For the most part, stock pickers fail to beat the market. That's why many mutual funds and ETFs are built on indexes. This means that each fund represents a tiny fraction of dozens of different companies that make up the best-performing segment of various markets. The owner of these funds benefits from the overall growth of the entire market, even if certain stocks fall by the wayside. You can easily buy your own funds from Vanguard or use a service like Betterment to do it for you for a small price.

    Invest When You Have Money and Don't Listen to the Noise

    To listen to stock market analysis, you'd think that the world was ending every time the markets take a dip. It's true that lots of people lose lots of money when this happens. But you also already know that this is going to happen. Consistent investment contributions to ETFs or mutual funds, using a tax protected account like an IRA, will tend to result in slow steady growth, making up the money they lose in temporary setbacks. Over time, the effects of compound interest will set in, and your investment will start to grow more and more quickly. But to achieve this, you've got to invest when you have money and you have to ignore the media bloviators who want to convince you to jump ship.

    This investment strategy I've mapped out is a very conservative one. There are lots of ways to invest. But this one will work for many kinds of people. It's a plan that requires little upkeep, puts investors in the way of minimal risk, and has the potential to make individuals very wealthy within their lifetimes. So do what you need to do and get started today. The best time to start investing was years ago. The second best time to start investing is right now.

     

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    Volkswagen AG Automobiles Await Shipping At A Distribution Logistics Park As German Prosecutor Opens Emissions Probe Into Former
    Christophe Morin/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesThe logos of Volkswagen and Audi stand on signs outside the VW logistics park, in Villers-Cotterets, France.
    By Andreas Cremer

    BERLIN -- Volkswagen (VLKAY) announced plans Tuesday to refit up to 11 million vehicles and overhaul its namesake brand following the scandal over its rigging of emissions tests.

    New Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller said the German carmaker would tell customers in the coming days they would need to have diesel vehicles with illegal software refitted, a move which some analysts have said could cost more than $6.5 billion.

    Europe's biggest carmaker has admitted cheating in diesel emissions tests in the United States and Germany's transport minister says it also manipulated them in Europe, where Volkswagen sells about 40 percent of its vehicles.

    We are facing a long trudge and a lot of hard work. We will only be able to make progress in steps and there will be setbacks.

    The company is under huge pressure to address the worst business crisis in its 78-year history, which has wiped more than a third off its market value, sent shock waves through the global car market and could harm Germany's economy.

    "We are facing a long trudge and a lot of hard work," Mueller told a closed-door gathering of about 1,000 top managers at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters late Monday.

    "We will only be able to make progress in steps and there will be setbacks," he said, according to a text seen by Reuters.

    Volkswagen did not say how the planned refit would make cars with the "cheat" software comply with regulations, or how this might affect vehicles' mileage or efficiency, which are important considerations for customers. It said it would submit the details to Germany's KBA watchdog next month.

    Manipulating emissions results allowed Volkswagen to keep down engine costs in a "clean diesel" strategy that was popular in Europe and at the heart of a drive to improve U.S. results.

    Mueller was appointed CEO Friday to replace Martin Winterkorn. German prosecutors said Monday they were investigating Winterkorn over allegations of fraud.

    Embarrassment

    The crisis is an embarrassment for Germany, which has for years held up Volkswagen as a model of its engineering prowess and has lobbied against some tighter regulations on automakers. The German car industry employs more than 750,000 people and is a major source of export income.

    Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters he wasn't worried about damage to the economy from Volkswagen's problems, "at least, not if we deal with it sensibly."

    There must be no "soft pedaling, no obfuscation and no covering-up" by Volkswagen, he added.

    The KBA had set Volkswagen an Oct. 7 deadline for a plan to bring diesel emissions into line with the law.

    Investors are impatient for answers, too.

    A survey of 62 institutions by investment banking advisory firm Evercore ISI found around two-thirds said it wouldn't be possible to invest in Volkswagen over the next six months if costs, fines, legal and criminal proceedings were outstanding or inadequately quantified.

    VW's brand image has also slumped this month, market researchers YouGov said, citing a survey of about 2,000 consumers.

    Millions of Cars

    Volkswagen said previously about 11 million vehicles were fitted with software capable of cheating emissions tests, including 5 million at its VW brand, 2.1 million at luxury brand Audi, 1.2 million at Skoda and 1.8 million light commercial vehicles.

    Refitting 11 million cars would be among the biggest recalls in history by a single automaker, similar in scale to Toyota's 2009-2010 recall of more than 10 million vehicles over acceleration problems, though dwarfed by the number recalled by multiple carmakers due to faulty Takata air bags.

    Volkswagen sold 10.1 million vehicles in the whole of 2014.

    The company said last week it would set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to help cover the cost of the crisis.

    But analysts think that may not be enough, as it faces potential fines from regulators and prosecutors, as well as lawsuits from cheated customers.

    Spain's industry ministry said Tuesday that Volkswagen's local business had agreed to return fuel-efficiency subsidies on vehicles that had broken rules. It said Spain, which offered subsidies of 1,000 euros for energy efficient car purchases, would ask for the money back from the car manufacturer and not consumers.

    At 1520 GMT, Volkswagen shares were down 3.3 percent at 96 euros.

    Mueller also said Volkswagen's core VW division, struggling with high-fixed costs and low profit margins, would be given more autonomy, akin to the independence enjoyed by premium flagship brands Audi and Porsche.

    Analysts have long urged the company to tackle underperformance at its core mass-market brand, and to dilute control from the center which has been blamed for product delays and problems adapting to local markets.

    A source familiar with the matter also said the executive committee of Volkswagen's supervisory board would meet on Wednesday to discuss progress with the company's investigations and engaging U.S. law firm Jones Day to lead an external probe.

    Budget Freeze

    Klaus Mohrs, mayor of Wolfsburg where Volkswagen employs around 70,000 people, said Monday he expected a sharp decline in business taxes due to the crisis, and announced an immediate budget freeze and hiring ban.

    The emissions scandal has sent ripples through the global car market too, with manufacturers fearing more costly regulations and a drop in diesel car sales.

    The European Commission is working on plans to reform the European system for approving new models of cars by the end of the year.

    Volkswagen's Belgian importer, D'Ieteren, said it would offer engine upgrades to 800 customers who had ordered a vehicle with one likely to have been fitted with illegal software. The importer said it would cover the expected 2 million euros cost.

     

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    Wal-Mart Announces Its Increasing Wages
    Joe Raedle/Getty Images
    By Nathan Layne and Sruthi Ramakrishnan

    Walmart Stores (WMT) is expanding free grocery pickup service to several U.S. markets as it seeks to capitalize on its network of physical stores amid growing competition with Amazon.com (AMZN) and others investing in home delivery.

    The world's largest retailer said Tuesday that it would start offering curbside pickup for groceries ordered online in eight new markets this month -- including Atlanta and Salt Lake City -- with more to be added in the coming weeks.

    Walmart has been testing online grocery delivery services in two markets and pickup in the five markets of Denver, Phoenix, San Jose, California, Bentonville, Arkansas, and Huntsville, Alabama.

    "We are not walking away from delivery. "But right now the focus for us is pickup, driven largely by what our customers are telling us.

    Tuesday's announcement solidifies a strategy of playing to its bricks-and-mortar footprint, with an estimated 70 percent of the U.S. population living within five miles of one of its 4,600 stores.

    "We are not walking away from delivery," said Michael Bender, chief operating officer of global e-commerce at Walmart. "But right now the focus for us is pickup, driven largely by what our customers are telling us."

    The move comes as rivals attempt to find the right business model for tapping demand for pickup and delivery services.

    Target (TGT) this month partnered with Instacart to deliver groceries for $3.99 an order in a pilot offering in Minneapolis. Amazon.com is testing delivery in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and California, for a $299 annual fee.

    Bender said Walmart is targeting pickup in part because it allows customers to pinpoint a pickup time, rather than having to be at home at a set delivery time of fresh items. He cited a busy mother with children as an example of the type of customer that would benefit from the service.

    Shoppers can choose from about 30,000 items, roughly the same assortment as in stores. After ordering and paying online, customers drive to the outlet at a designated time and workers load items into their cars. Fayetteville and Charlotte, North Carolina; Ogden, Utah; Nashville, Tennessee; Tucson, Arizona; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, are the other new markets for the service.

    Walmart will add a new role of "personal shopper" to retrieve and store the items. In some cases, that will entail promoting workers within a store, but overall it expected to add some headcount related to the service, Bender said.

    Neil Stern, senior partner at retail consultancy McMillan-Doolittle, said investing in pickup makes sense from a cost perspective.

    "The economics of pickup are much better for a retailer. Delivering to the home remains costly, even as services like Instacart and Shipt attempt to reinvent the model," Stern said.

     

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    Financial Markets Wall Street
    Richard Drew/AP
    By Noel Randewich

    NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks ended higher after a volatile session Tuesday as concerns about the health of the global economy kept investors cautious after more than a month of turbulence.

    The S&P 500 recovered after falling earlier to within 0.26 percent of lows it touched in August, when fears of a slowdown in China shocked global markets.

    I would never have expected that we would take out that low and we haven't yet, but we sure are close.

    "I would never have expected that we would take out that low and we haven't yet, but we sure are close. A retest is a good thing but it needs to hold," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab (SCHW) in Austin.

    Seven of the 10 S&P sectors rose, with the health care index up 0.9 percent, ending a seven-day losing streak, thanks in part to gains in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Gilead Sciences (GILD).

    Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks had faced pressure after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized drug pricing last week.

    The Nasdaq composite ended lower and the S&P technology index fell 0.6 percent. Apple (AAPL) fell 3 percent a day after reporting record first-weekend sales of its newest iPhones.

    Although the market's recent rout has forced many strategists to slash their year-end expectations, a new Reuters poll shows the S&P 500 ending 2015 roughly 11 percent above current levels.

    "We're taking a breather after the carnage we saw yesterday and in the last few days," said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco. "I wouldn't be surprised if we go a little lower before we stabilize."

    The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 0.3 percent to end with 16,049.13 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 0.1 percent to 1,884.09. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 0.6 percent to 4,517.32.

    Fresh Data on Tap

    Investors are awaiting data scheduled to be released this week, culminating in nonfarm payrolls numbers Friday.

    A report Tuesday showed the consumer confidence index rose to 103 in September, topping economists' expectation of 96.1.

    With third-quarter earnings season looming, Goldman Sachs (GS) said it expects sales growth for S&P 500 companies to shrink this year for the first time in five years.

    After the bell, Diamond Foods (DMND) posted fiscal fourth-quarter sales that missed Wall Street's expectations and its stock lost 4 percent.

    During the regular session, Yahoo (YHOO) shares rose 2.4 percent, a day after the Internet company's board decided to proceed with spinning off Alibaba (BABA) stake.

    Nexstar (NXST) rose 8 percent after activist investor Starboard Value urged regional TV company Media General to sell itself to Nexstar.

    Republic Airways (RJET) surged 12.9 percent after Deutsche Bank (DB) raised the stock to "buy" and the airline reached agreement on new contract with its pilots.

    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,732 to 1,353. On the Nasdaq, 1,759 issues fell and 1,053 advanced. The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and 70 lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 323 lows.

    About 7.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.3 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data.

    -With additional reporting by Charles Mikolajczak in New York, and Abhiram Nandakumar and Sweta Singh in Bangalore.

    What to watch Wednesday:
    • Paychex (PAYX) releases quarterly financial results before U.S. markets open.
    • Automatic Data Processing (ADP) releases the ADP Employment Report at 8:15 a.m. Eastern time.
    • The Institute For Supply Management - Chicago releases the Chicago purchasing managers index at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time.
    • Janet Yellen speaks at the St. Louis Fed community banking conference at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

     

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    Is Your Shampoo Worth Its Price?
    We all need to wash our hair, but buying fancy shampoos and conditioners can quickly tangle up your finances. Here we investigate whether all those moisturizing, smoothing, and revitalizing ingredients are they really worth paying extra.

    First, higher prices don't mean better shampoos. What's most important are the active ingredients which can generally be found in equal measure in both salon and grocery store shampoos. Some of the key ingredients you should look for are: ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium laurel and sodium laureth sulfate. These are all the cleansing ingredients in shampoos, and sodium laureth sulfate is the most gentle on your hair, but keep in mind it's also the most expensive of the three.

    Next, watch out for exaggerated advertisements. For instance, claims that cheaper brands are watered down, or have a higher pH levels compared to their pricier counterparts just aren't true.

    Lastly, don't fall for fancy ingredients in your shampoo. Some companies will add foam boosters, fragrances and even caviar to make the shampoo more alluring. Do these extravagant ingredients actually make a difference? Not really.

    Before you buy your next bottle of shampoo, remember these tips. By knowing what's in the bottle, you can cut your spending -- one wash at time.

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    A View Of The Comcast Center
    Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Comcast
    If you're still looking for the perfect icebreaker or pickup line, try this one on for size:

    "Hey, you look like you're not happy with your current cable or satellite television provider."

    It's true. Most of us are dissatisfied with our pay-TV provider. Prices keep moving higher with every passing year as they pass on escalating programming costs to customers. Outages seem to happen at the worst possible time. Then we get to the horrendous reputation that the industry has when it comes to customer service. Good luck getting a technician to honor an appointment, and good luck canceling when you face a hard sell or ridiculous hurdles to jump through when it's time to return your equipment.

    Unhappy cable and satellite television subscribers have had enough. They're ditching their pay-TV subscriptions, even if it means that they still have to deal with their former television service companies as Internet providers. Thankfully, the pay-TV giants are starting to address the concerns. They're tired of being hated.

    There's an App for That

    Dish Network (DISH) is launching My Tech, a new feature for subscribers with service appointments that actually tracks where repair techs are before they arrive. The new feature from Dish's website lets users track the dispatched technician an hour before the estimated arrival time, complete with a countdown time.

    Dish isn't the first pay-TV company to offer up Uber-like tracking. Comcast (CMCSK, CMCSA) has been testing a similar offering since late last year, but it's the country's second-largest satellite television provider that has become the first to roll it out nationally.

    Comcast was awarded Consumerist's annual Worst Company in America award last year, and many of its smaller rivals were finalists. The ugly distinction has forced Comcast to shake up its consumer-facing operations. Back in May it announced that it would be creating thousands of new customer service jobs. It's testing a revamped customer service experience in the Northwest that will be rolled out to all Comcast customers if it's successful.

    Comcast is also making it easier to cut the cord -- realizing that it will probably still keep the customer on a broadband account -- by making it easier to return rented cable equipment. It struck a deal with UPS (UPS) last year that allows customers to drop off their cable boxes and other Comcast gear at any UPS mailing facility. Anyone who has ever had to waste a day at a crowded Comcast center should be grateful for that.

    None of these moves will make your cable bill cheaper, though the revamped customer service experience reportedly makes the bills easier to read. However, pay TV is tired to be the punch line of the service industry's joke. We'll have to see if some of these new initiatives are enough to drive you to come up with a new conversation starter.

    Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends United Parcel Service. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.​​

     

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    closeup portrait  senior mature ...
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    The shimmering dream of retirement beckons to many people as the primary goal of work. Retirement holds the promise, finally, of time to call your own and the chance to pursue what matters most to you if work has kept you from it.

    Retirement, though -- at least the 20th-century middle-class ideal of it in the United States -- is under siege. Here are nine reasons why, for many Americans, retirement may not be what they dreamed.

    1. You might have to retire before you're ready. Forty-nine percent of retirees surveyed in 2012 had to retire sooner than they'd planned, usually because of health problems, according to the Retirement Income Reference Book published by LIMRA, a research firm focused on insurance and financial services.

    Other reasons that early retirement is forced on workers include job loss or burnout and negative work conditions, reports Mark Miller, publisher of Retirement Revised.

    2. It's no fun hanging out with your spouse 24/7. Financial planners say many couples have trouble getting used to spending more time together. Writes MainStreet.com:

    "Everyone gets excited about retirement -- they think they're going to walk out the door and never look back and spend their days relaxing and traveling with their spouse, but then they get home and they find they can't actually stand the person they've been married to for the last 30 years," says Deana Arnett, senior planning consultant at Rosenthal Wealth Management Group. "I've seen it happen more times than I care to tell you."

    To be sure, many couples love 24/7 togetherness. But not everyone. A financial planner I know sees the toll retirement can take on marriages. He observes that husbands who have been extremely focused on their jobs in particular seem to struggle with the hole it leaves in their lives after they stop working.

    Relationships can endure this transition. Finding retirement pursuits that give life meaning -- philanthropy or volunteering, and not just a life built around golf and travel -- will give both spouses a sense of renewal.

    For some ideas, check out 12 Ways to Connect and Contribute in Your Community after Retiring.

    3. It's boring. When you hate your boss and feel overwhelmed by work, it may be hard to imagine, but retirees often long for the camaraderie, structure and sense of purpose work delivers. Not to mention the money.

    A funny, engaging blog, Retirement: A Fulltime Job, tracks the evolution of former CPA Sydney Lagier, who retired in 2008 at age 44. After two months of retirement, she sounded a little surprised to find that retirement hadn't changed her much, inside:

    What will you spend your time doing after you retire? Whatever you spent your time doing before you retired, minus the job. While I'm sure my interests will evolve over the years (just as they did while I was working), I now spend my time doing exactly what I did before I retired, only more of it.

    As it turns out, she has dipped in and out of retirement since. "Maybe I was taking retirement for granted, maybe I just needed to shake things up a bit," she writes, about taking part-time consultant work.

    She's not the only retiree to crave stimulation. "[M]any new retirees find themselves easily bored without working part-time, even if they don't need a paycheck," Next Avenue writes.

    At The Wall Street Journal, a panel of experts advises taking on new challenges by learning, working, advising, volunteering and experimenting. One aging expert says she learned that saying, "Yes," to new experiences opens doors to much-needed variety.

    4. Working until age 70 may not be an option. In an astounding show of grit, nearly 75 percent of preretirees surveyed by LIMRA said they expect to work in retirement.

    Sadly, for most, that vow stands to be derailed by life's realities. Today, three-quarters of retirees are not working, LIMRA says.

    In recently published research, the AARP Public Policy Institute says:

    Extended unemployment, coupled with age discrimination and other barriers, can add to the challenges older workers face in finding a job. Even older jobseekers who do find work may have trouble recovering financially. Many end up accepting jobs at lower pay, with fewer hours, and with limited benefits.

    Depending on your profession, it might be wise to invest in disability insurance. Click here to learn about the costs and considerations.

    5. Money's tight -- really tight. Although Social Security pays only $1,290 a month, on average, most retirees have very little money in savings. In its annual Retirement Confidence Survey this year, the Employment Benefit Research Institute looked at the savings of current retirees, not including the value of a primary residence or a defined-benefit pension, reporting that:
    • 35 percent have less than $1,000 in savings.
    • 61 percent have less than $50,000 in savings.
    Poverty already has a firm grip on 3.5 million to 6 million seniors, depending on how your measure it. Fifteen percent of people 65 and older are living at the poverty level, and nearly half of them live on less than the supplemental poverty level, another measure of low-income status, according to this report to Congress by the Kaiser Foundation. Older women and minorities are by far hardest-hit.

    Even if these percentages stay steady, millions more seniors stand to fall into poverty as the baby boom generation, now ages 51 to 69, becomes elderly. But current trends suggest that poverty will increase.

    "With the decline in employer-sponsored pensions and retiree health coverage, fewer retirees in the future will have benefits that have helped keep seniors from falling into poverty," the Kaiser study says.

    6. It's hard to get used to growing old. Growing old is a lot like being a teenager. Your body and your looks change rapidly and that can be surprising and discomforting. Lagier captures this with humor. Shocked when well-intentioned bystanders stood up to offer her their seats, she described her "three phases of aging":

    The first phase is where you feel young because you actually are young. The third phase is where you feel old because you actually are old. And the phase in between is where you feel young but everyone thinks you need to sit down.

    A more scholarly look at the stages of retirement outlined here on the Ohio State University website was devised by Robert Atchley, a leader in the field of gerontology. There's preretirement planning and the exciting early phase of retirement. Those give way to disenchantment followed by a phase of reorientation. After that, retirees typically settle into a new life routine, he observed.

    That all sounds bumpy but pretty good, except that Atchley's last stage closes with the onset of illness, disability or death.

    That inevitability can be tough to deal with, especially if you've made plans only for your finances. Before you receive that gold watch for retirement, do some thinking about what you want your retirement life to look like. This website provides a reading list to help you think about the process of aging, finding meaning in retirement and coping with mortality.

    7. You might spend a lot of it caring for old parents. Taking on the care of elderly parents forces many workers, women particularly, into retirement. Eldercare consultant Carol Bradley Bursack got an earful when she wrote Should You Quit Your Job to Care for Your Elderly Parent? at AgingCare.com. More than 100 readers commented, many describing their anguish at having to choose between their financial security and caring full-time for parents. One, "Caregiveryes," tells of managing her own aging and health problems along with her parents':

    It was sad when Mom passed away, but I was physically and emotionally spent and had to take early retirement. My marriage also suffered. Weekend evenings out with friends dwindled to none. My husband and I have already made arrangements so our children do not even have to consider taking on this responsibility. And, it has nothing to do with love or commitment, for me it was more than I could handle physically and emotionally.

    Another, "Bruce1013," writes:

    In 2006 I quit my job and apparently lost a good career to become full-time caregiver for my 87 y/o mother. She suffered a stroke while hospitalized with double pneumonia and I was told in no uncertain terms she would need to spend the rest of her life in a full-time care facility. I decided then and there my mother would spend her remaining days in the home she had lived in since 1950 so I moved in and became her caregiver.

    ... I am now 57 years old and no one in my previous field will hire me. Interviewers give me "reasons" I don't get hired but I know it's simply because of age.

    8. You could pick up an STD. Seniors, including 72 percent of men and 45 percent of women ages 57 to 72, are sexually active, says this study from The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

    Well, good for them, you might say. But STDs are growing fast among the older set. When you think about retirement communities, "[t]hink about sex -- unsafe sex," writes The New York Times:

    Combine retirement communities, longer life, unfamiliarity with condoms and Viagra -- and what do you get? You get an S.T.D. epidemic among the Social Security generation that rivals what we imagine is happening in those "Animal House" fraternities.

    For example: STDs are growing faster in areas where retirees cluster, points out Psychology Today:

    For instance, in Arizona's retirement-heavy (and, for what it's worth, extremely socially and politically conservative) Pima and Maricopa counties, reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among those 55 and older rose 87 percent from 2005 to 2009. Central Florida saw a 71 percent rise in the same timeframe, and South Florida saw a 60 percent rise.

    The solution? Simple: use condoms.

    9. You may outlive your money. Longer lifespans today put the nest eggs of even the most-scrupulous retirement savers at risk of being exhausted in their owners' lifetimes. Six in 10 financial advisers predict that their clients could outlive their income, LIMRA finds.

    What's worse, just a quarter of preretirees believe they're at risk to outlive their income, LIMRA says. In fact, only a third of people near or in retirement have even tried to calculate how long their assets will last.

    This unpleasant outcome can be avoided in many cases, but it's a lot easier if we pull our heads out of the sand. For ideas on how to save enough for retirement, and how to invest it, check out The 10 Golden Rules of Retiring Rich, Retiring soon? Don't Make These Money Mistakes and Could You Retire Early? Take this Test to Find Out, just for starters.

    What's your idea of an ideal retirement and what are your fears? Share your thoughts and questions in comments below or on our Facebook page.

    Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free!


    How to Invest Your Retirement Savings

     

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