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Consumer Confidential: Gas prices take toll, Barnes & Noble buyout offer, Honda recalls Civics

May 20, 2011 | 10:14 am

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

-- From the you're-not-alone file: About 40% of Americans say high gas prices are having a significant effect on their bottom lines. A poll by the Associated Press finds that 71% of drivers say rising prices will cause some hardship for them and their families, including 41% who called it a "serious" hardship. On the other side, 29% said rising prices are not having a negative effect on their finances. Things are especially tough for senior citizens. The share of seniors with financial hardship over gas prices hit 76%. That number is up from 68% in March. Some say they're even giving up expensive medicine to stay on budget. Of drivers making changes to deal with the rising gas prices, 72% say they're cutting back on expenses, 66% say they're driving less and 48% say they've changed their vacation plans. Southern California gas prices top $4 a gallon in all counties.

-- Wall Street is happy about a buyout offer for bookseller Barnes & Noble. Shares in the company jumped sharply higher after John Malone's Liberty Media offered to buy it for about $1 billion. Being part of a bigger conglomerate could boost Barnes & Noble's ability to invest in remaking itself for the age of electronic books, analysts say. The offer values Barnes & Noble shares 21% higher than their Thursday closing price of $14.11. Barnes & Noble has 705 stores nationwide and 636 bookstores run by its Barnes & Noble College Booksellers subsidiary. The company put itself up for sale in August in response to pressure from billionaire activist shareholder Ron Burkle.

-- Heads up: Honda is recalling about 1,150 Civics from the 2012 model year due to a potential problem with the fuel line, which could potentially spring a leak. "During manufacture of the fuel line assembly, an O-ring may have been displaced, which could potentially lead to a fuel leak at a joint where two segments of pipe attach to each other," Honda says. Most of the cars affected by the problem have not been sold yet and dealers will repair them before they leave the lot. Honda says there have been no reports of injuries or fires related to the fuel feed line problem.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: High gas prices are hitting people in the pocketbook. Credit: Bruce Halmo / Associated Press