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Consumer Confidential: Sentiment down, sales up, cars recalled

August 12, 2011 |  8:19 am

Here's your feets-don't-fail-me-now Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Consumers are still feeling blue about the economy, but that apparently isn't enough to stop us from going shopping. Consumer sentiment worsened sharply in early August, falling to the lowest level since 1980, according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey. High unemployment, stagnant wages and the ongoing debate over raising the U.S. government debt ceiling spooked consumers, who were polled before the U.S.' credit rating was downgraded last Friday. Two-thirds of all consumers reported that they believed the economy had recently worsened, and just one in five anticipated any gains during the year ahead. Yet a separate report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed that retail sales in July posted their biggest gain in months, tempering fears that the economy might be slipping back into recession. Nothing like a little retail therapy to chase away the blues.

--Heads up: General Motors is recalling some 2012 Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse models to fix safety problems. GM says 11,915 Impalas are being recalled in the U.S. and Canada because a power steering fluid hose gets too close to the catalytic converter. The hose can melt, and fluid can leak and start a fire. The company says it knows of no complaints or injuries. The large sedans were built from April 19 through July 29. GM also is recalling 4,293 LaCrosse sedans in the U.S. and Canada to fix software that runs a computer that controls the brakes. The software may not detect a malfunctioning sensor. If the sensor fails, it could change the way the car handles and cause a crash. GM says no crashes have been reported

-- David Lazarus