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Consumer Confidential: Confidence slips, Sonic's low price, Martha gets a comic

June 17, 2011 | 10:27 am

Wonderpic Here's your flash-in-the-pan Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Feeling gloomy? You're not alone. Consumer confidence dropped more than forecast in June as households coped with higher prices and slowing job growth. Though gasoline costs have retreated from the highest levels since July 2008, consumer budgets are being strained by rising prices for other goods and services. Unemployment climbed in May to the highest point this year, and employers added the fewest workers in eight months, further stressing the largest part of the economy. Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely project the direction of consumer spending, also show a decline.

--Just in time for such economically anxious times, General Motors says pricing for its new Chevy Sonic will start at just under $15,000 when the sub-compact car hits dealer lots this fall. Base models of the 2012 Sonic will start at $14,495, excluding tax, title, license and dealer fees. Its standard equipment includes 10 airbags, power door locks, remote keyless entry and 15-inch alloy wheels. The car will come in both sedan and hatchback body styles. The hatchback version of the Sonic will start at $15,395, while pricing for the sedan and hatchback versions of the more upscale Sonic LT will begin at $15,695 and $16,495, respectively, GM says.

--Move over, Wonder Woman. The newest comic-book heroine is none other than domestic diva Martha Stewart. "Female Force: Martha Stewart," a one-shot issue from Bluewater Productions, will focus on how Stewart rose to become one of the nation's best-known purveyors of home decor, cooking and practical living. It's the latest in a line of titles from the Vancouver, Wash.-based publisher, with previous subjects in the "Female Force" family of titles focusing on Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michelle Obama, Barbara Walters, Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher. Publisher Darren G. Davis says the comic will look at all sides of Stewart, including her rapport with fans as well as her conviction on insider trading. Superheroes, after all, need flaws to be believable.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: But will Martha Stewart have a magic lasso? Credit: DC Comics