NEW YORK (AP) -- With the Iraqi war moving into the history books, consumers started turning their attention to domestic matters and became modestly more confident in the economy, according to the latest Conference Board survey.
The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 83.8 in May from 81 in April when the index jumped 19.6 points as consumers cheered the swift end of heavy fighting in Iraq, the board said today. Analysts had projected an index reading of 84 for May.
Economists closely track consumer confidence because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity in the United States and has kept the economy afloat since it fell into recession in 2000.
Euro hits all-time high
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The euro hit an all-time high against the U.S. dollar today, restoring prestige to Europe's 4 1/2 year experiment with a shared currency while making consumer goods and European vacations more expensive for Americans.
The move also raised worries that the rally could stall Europe's economic recovery.
The euro soared to $1.1914 in Asian trading, before slipping back slightly to $1.1895 as trading opened in Europe.
The dollar fell against other major currencies as well in European trading, while gold prices rose.
Driven down by U.S. economic woes including the trade deficit, the weak dollar could help recovery in the United States by boosting exports and fattening corporate earnings. Ordinary Americans, however, will run into higher prices for imported cars, televisions and other goods.
Red Cross strike averted today
Blood collectors for the American Red Cross halted a planned strike today after the Communications Workers of America Local 1122 reached tentative agreement on a new contract.
About 100 blood collectors, delivery drivers and other workers in the Buffalo district had given notice of a strike to begin this morning, according to Sybil Miller, director of communications for the American Red Cross Blood Service, New York-Penn Region.
A vote on a tentative agreement is scheduled for Thursday. "We're just holding our breath until then," she said. The previous contract expired March 31.
Jan Borman, president of Local 1122, confirmed that the strike had been called off Tuesday.
The primary supplier of blood to area hospitals, the Red Cross said that collection would continue in the event of a strike.
Dog food recall issued
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers are being asked to return dog food that may have come from a Canadian cow that tested positive for mad cow disease.
Pet Pantry International of Carson City, Nev., which issued the request Monday, said customers should search for two products: "Maintenance Diet" with a "use by" date of "17FEB04" and "Beef with Barley" with a date of "05MAR04.
If found, the food should be held for pickup. The company's products are purchased by phone or e-mail and delivered by franchises to consumers' homes.
There is no known risk to dogs and no evidence that dogs could transmit the disease to humans, the Food and Drug Administration said. The voluntary return is a precaution to prevent discarded dog food from getting mixed with feed for cattle, goats or sheep.
Customers who purchased dog food since February should check their supplies and, if found, should call the company at 1-800-381-7387.
Sprint changing transmission mode
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Sprint Corp. announced today that it has begun transforming its telephone network so voice calls are transmitted in "packets" -- the same way data moves over the Internet.
Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint said it was the first major telecom company in the country to begin the conversion. It launched the technology today in Gardner, Kan., where Sprint replaced its local switching network with packet technology.
The technology allows voice and data traffic to be broken into digital pieces that are sent separately across the network and reassembled upon arrival. The technology allows multiple phone calls and Internet connections to share the same line.