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Consumer Confidential: cash for appliances, US Airways says no, housing up

April 22, 2010 | 10:16 am

Here's your thinking-of-you Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- California's "cash for appliances" program begins today. That means $35.2 million in mail-in rebates will be handed out to encourage purchases of energy-efficient appliances (and just to get us all shopping). Specifically, we're talking a cool $200 back if you buy a new fridge, $100 for a washing machine and $50 for an air conditioner. This is a federal program, but it's being administered by the California Energy Commission. Ask retailers about how you can cash in.

-- US Airways Group says it has walked away from merger talks with United Airlines. But don't think the airline-consolidation whirl has ended. The departure of US Airways from the picture only increases the likelihood that United will climb into bed with Continental Airlines, creating the world's largest carrier. Industry analysts like such a prospect and have been pushing Continental's stock higher in anticipation of some hot-and-heavy merger action. For travelers, a Continental-United marriage would mean less competition in the marketplace. And you know what that means.

-- Some good news on the housing front. Sales of existing homes jumped a healthy 6.8% last month as home buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax credit that says sayonara within days. This marked the ninth straight month that home sales have topped year-ago levels. Since everyone agrees that stability in the housing market is the key to economic recovery, this clearly shows that we're on the right path. And if you're like me, you'll cling to any positive signs that emerge.

-- David Lazarus