WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES & WARNINGS

UNTIL 7 AM FRIDAY

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES remain for Kalamazoo, Van Buren, St. Joe, Branch, Allegan, Barry, Ottawa, Kent, Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties until 7 AM Friday.  Lake effect snow, heavy at times, drops 4" to 8+" of snow through Friday morning.  Approaching 10" or more are possible in some cities.  Westerly winds gusting to 35 mph create blowing and drifting snow, especially in open areas.   

Ionia, Eaton, and Calhoun counties have been added to our existing WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES; expiration time is 7 PM tonight.  Snowfall totals of 1" to 4+" are possible.  

WINTER STORM WARNINGS remain in Berrien, Cass counties until 4 AM Friday for in excess of 6" of snow.  As of this point, snow has been sparse; WARNINGS may be revised.

Stay with wwmt.com for your weather always!

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9-1-1 calls after inmate escapes from Ionia Co. jail

Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 |
9-1-1 calls after inmate escapes from Ionia Co. jail story image
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Here is a 9-1-1 call made in the wake of the escape of Ionia Co. prisoner Michael Elliot.

For more on Elliot's escape, click here.
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Business News

Last Update on November 20, 2014 18:16 GMT

HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans bought homes in October at the briskest pace this year, a sign that the sluggish housing market is turning around.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million. That's up from a revised pace of 5.18 million in September. October marked the first month in 2014 when sales increased compared to a year ago, registering a 2.5 percent gain compared to 2013.

Harsh winter weather had crippled buying at the beginning of 2014, just as tight credit, rising home prices and essentially flat incomes cut into affordability and buying activity. The Realtors project that 2014 sales will fall below 2013 levels.

Median home prices rose 5.5 percent over the past 12 months to $208,300.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates continued to tick down this week, remaining close to yearlong lows.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage slipped to 3.99 percent from 4.01 percent last week. Rates have stayed around 4 percent for roughly the past month, after having opened the year at 4.53 percent.

Long-term mortgage rates fell as low as 3.31 percent toward the end 2012, as the Federal Reserve rolled out a since-ended program to purchase bonds in order to lower rates. They plunged in recent weeks amid economic slowdowns in Europe and China and the start of a recession in Japan.

The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, fell to 3.17 percent from 3.20 percent.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, suggesting that job gains should remain solid.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 1,750 to 287,500.

Employers are laying off fewer workers and have stepped up hiring this year. The weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs, and have fallen 16 percent in the past 12 months. They are close to the lowest levels since 2000, a sign companies are more confident in the economy and willing to hold onto their staffs.

The number of people receiving aid has also fallen steadily, and now stands at 2.33 million, the lowest since December 2000.

CONSUMER PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in October as a fourth straight decline in gasoline costs helped to keep inflation at bay.

The Commerce Department says the steady reading for inflation last month followed a tiny 0.1 percent increase in September and a 0.2 percent drop in August. Energy prices fell 1.9 percent last month while food costs edged up a slim 0.1 percent.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food, rose 0.2 percent in October. For the past 12 months, overall inflation is up 1.7 percent while core inflation is up a similarly modest 1.8 percent.

Both gains are well below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent inflation target, giving the central bank leeway to keep interest rates low to boost the economy without worrying about inflation.

LEADING INDICATORS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An index designed to predict the future health of the economy rose in October at the fastest pace in three months.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators increased 0.9 percent last month following a 0.7 percent rise in September, which had been initially reported as a slightly stronger 0.8 percent increase. The October reading was the best showing since a 1.2 percent jump in July.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says the October performance points to continued economic growth through the holiday season and into early 2015.

BEST BUY-SALES SURPRISE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Best Buy says its revenue edged up in the third quarter, a positive sign for the electronics retailer as the holiday season kicks off.

Both revenue and earnings per share beat expectations, and Best Buy stock rose almost 10 percent in premarket trading.

Best Buy has been cutting costs and revamping stores to help improve results as it faces increased competition from online retailers and discount stores.

In the third quarter, revenue edged up less than 1 percent to $9.38 billion. Analysts expected revenue to decline to $9.11 billion, according to FactSet. Revenue in stores open at least one year, a closely watched performance metric, rose 2.2 percent in the quarter.

Best sellers in the quarter were computers, video games, TVs and appliances, while sales of services, tablets and phones were weaker.

AIR BAG RECALL-CONGRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The quality chief for Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. is telling a Senate committee that a national recall of driver's side air bag inflators is not necessary.

In testimony before the Commerce Committee, Senior Vice President of Quality Hiroshi Shimizu says recalls should be limited to high-humidity areas.

Takata air bags can inflate with too much force, sending metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment and injuring people. The problem has caused at least five deaths and dozens of injuries. Humidity can cause the air bag propellant to burn too quickly.

U.S. safety regulators are demanding that Takata recall driver's air bags nationwide after incidents in California and North Carolina.

But Shimizu says tests have not revealed any inflator ruptures outside the high-humidity zones, mainly in the South.

EUROPE-GENERAL MOTORS

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra says the automaker will invest half a billion euros ($630 million) in European plants and build a new SUV at the home base for its Opel division there.

Barra said in a statement Thursday that the steps were a "clear sign" of GM's commitment to its European subsidiary.

The company will put new money into engine and transmission production at plants in Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern in Germany and at Tychy in Poland. A third shift will be added at the company's plant in Eisenach.

Barra said it plans to build a new SUV model at Ruesselsheim that would serve as the Opel brand's "second flagship" along with its Insignia model. SUVs have been one growth segment in Europe's depressed auto market.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- A closely watched survey says the muted economic recovery in the 18-country eurozone lost ground in November and that the region faces the prospect of another recession.

Financial information company Markit says Thursday that its purchasing managers' index for the eurozone, a broad gauge of business activity, fell to a 16-month low of 51.4 points in November from 52.1 in October. Though anything above 50 indicates expansion, the survey suggests a recession isn't far away.

Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson says the decline "raises the risk of the region slipping back into a renewed downturn" and that quarterly growth in the final quarter is set to be just 0.1-0.2 percent. Figures last week showed that the eurozone grew by only 0.2 percent in the third quarter.

WEBCAMS-WARNING

LONDON (AP) -- Experts have a message for anyone with webcams, baby monitors and home security cameras: change your password now.

Britain's Information Commissioner's Office said Thursday that footage being collected from security cameras -- such as closed circuit television networks or built-in cameras like baby monitors -- is being posted to the Internet.

A website based in Russia is posting live footage of homes and businesses after having used the default login credentials for thousands of cameras.

The ICO is joining with its counterparts in the United States, China, Australia and Canada in warning consumers about the Russian website.

The Russian site takes advantage of the fact that camera users receive default passwords to get devices working -- such as "1234." Many manufacturers also put default passwords online.

ATLANTIC CITY CASINO CLOSINGS

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- The prospects for Atlantic City's crumbling casino market are worsening.

All sides scrambled to regroup from the collapse Wednesday of a deal to sell the former Revel Casino Hotel to a Canadian firm. About 3,000 jobs would be lost in a shutdown.

A Delaware bankruptcy judge scheduled a hearing on whether the parent company of the struggling Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort should be liquidated. Trump Entertainment Resorts has said it will close the casino Dec. 12. The liquidation hearing is set for Dec. 4.

The judge says he'll consider whether the bankruptcy case should change from a Chapter 11 reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation.

And looming early next year is a widely expected bankruptcy filing by a division of Caesars Entertainment, which owns three of Atlantic City's eight remaining casinos.

THANKSGIVING TRAVEL

NEW YORK (AP) -- There is good news for Thanksgiving travelers: the price of gas is at five-year lows.

The bad news: a lot more people will be driving.

During the holiday weekend, 46.3 million Americans are expected to go 50 miles or more from home, the highest number since 2007, according to car group AAA. That would be a 4.2 percent increase over last year. While promising for the travel industry, the figure is still 8.5 percent short of the 50.6 million reached in 2007, just before the recession.

The overwhelming majority of travelers -- almost 90 percent -- will be driving.

AAA says the average retail price for gasoline is $2.85 per gallon, 43 cents cheaper than Thanksgiving Day last year. That means a family driving 300 miles will save $6.97.

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