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Consumer Confidential: Oil prices jump, Bing starts dealing, pork gets a makeover

March 4, 2011 | 10:21 am

Gaspic Here's your freight-train Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Man, sometimes you just can't win. Even as the government announced that the unemployment rate had dropped to 8.9%, the prospect of more people commuting to work raised concern among investors of higher demand for gas. That caused stocks to tank as oil prices jumped to a two-year high. The Labor Department says the economy added 192,000 jobs last month. Meanwhile, pump prices have shot up by an average of 35 cents a gallon since the uprising in Libya began in mid-February. A gallon of regular unleaded gained another 4.4 cents overnight to a new national average of $3.471 a gallon. So let's be happy for all those people who've gotten jobs. And let's hope oil prices come down soon.

--Microsoft's Bing search engine is climbing aboard the daily-deal bandwagon. It now offers "Bing deals," allowing consumers to find local discounts. Bing is attempting to cut itself in for a piece of the action dominated by deals website Groupon. Microsoft has partnered with the Dealmap, a service provider that allows people to find and share the best local deals. About 200,000 offers will be available in 14,000 cities. Bing deals compiles offers from Groupon, LivingSocial and Meantime, the latest stats show that Bing has overtaken Yahoo to become the No. 2 search engine, after Google. I'm not sure whether that's a reflection of Bing's superiority or Yahoo's dwindling popularity.

--And in case you were wondering, the pork people think it's time for a little image makeover. After 25 years of the official pork slogan being "The Other White Meat," now we have "Pork: Be Inspired." And the pork industry is prepared to spend more than $11 million on an ad campaign to drive the message home. The old message compared pork to the more popular chicken. Now the industry will focus on the nearly 82 million Americans who already eat pork. The goal is to increase sales by 10% by 2014. Pork consumption averages about 50 pounds per person per year, according to the Department of Agriculture. That's a lot of pork. But if it's not enough for you, well, be inspired to pork out in other ways.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: An improved employment outlook could push pump prices higher. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times