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Brake woes on Honda Pilot

DETROIT -- Federal U.S. safety officials are investigating brake problems in the Honda Pilot sports utility vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the brakes can come on without drivers stepping on the pedal.

The probe covers nearly 88,000 Pilots from the 2005 model year. Investigators will determine if the problem is bad enough for Honda to recall the SUVs.

No crashes or injuries have been reported. The government and Honda have received 205 complaints about the problem. Several drivers reported the SUVs slowed to nearly a stop while they were on a freeway.

Investigators are looking at problems with a computer-controlled system that stops the vehicle as fast as possible in emergency situations.

The safety agency says it began the probe after getting a request from a consumer in April.

Video-game sales fall

LOS ANGELES -- U.S. retail sales of new video-game hardware, software and accessories fell 24 per cent in September.

The falloff marked the 10th consecutive month of declining sales as the gaming world holds off buying ahead of the release of Nintendo's Wii U console next month.

Research firm NPD Group said Thursday sales fell to $848 million from $1.11 billion a year earlier.

Sales of video games themselves, excluding PC titles, fell 18 per cent to $497.4 million.

The September decline was less severe, however, than the 28 per cent drop forecast by Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz.

Including PC games, software sales fell 14 per cent to $547.3 million. That was also better than the 23 per cent decline Creutz forecast. The analyst said he expected the sales declines to moderate somewhat in the final quarter of the year due to new releases and Nintendo's Wii U, which is due out Nov. 18.

September sales of hardware such as the Xbox 360 fell 39 per cent to $210.9 million, and accessories sales fell 11 per cent to $139.9 million.

Bank to buy back shares

TORONTO -- Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) said Friday it will buy back up to 30 million of its shares or about 2.1 per cent of its outstanding stock under a normal course issuer bid in the coming year.

The bank said purchases under the plan may start on Nov. 1 and continue until Oct. 31, 2013.

The number and timing of any purchases will be determined by the bank, but may not exceed 634,500 common shares on any given day.

Royal Bank had about 1.44 billion shares outstanding on Sept. 28.

By reducing the number of shares outstanding, a bank increases its return on equity and earnings per share, two key ratios used to determine its financial health and investment rating.

Royal Bank shares were unchanged at $56.81 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday morning.

More living debt-free

TORONTO -- A new poll suggests more Canadians are living debt-free this year compared to 2011.

The annual RBC survey found 26 per cent of respondents had no personal debt -- excluding mortgage debt -- in 2012, up from 22 per cent last year.

However, the poll found that on average, Canadians are carrying $13,141 in non-mortgage debt, up $84 from last year. Ontario residents were carrying the heaviest load at $15,361 while Quebecers had the least at $10,171.

Some 40 per cent of those polled said they were comfortable with their current debt level, down from 45 per cent last year. And one-in-three respondents said their debt levels are a source of anxiety -- up slightly from 2011.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 13, 2012 B6

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