Business

McDonald’s unveils new Kit Kat Banana Split McFlurry, more hot menu updates

McDonald’s

(NEW YORK) — McDonald’s has a new frozen treat on its menu that’s perfect for customers looking to beat the heat.

On Tuesday, the Golden Arches announced the newest McFlurry flavor hitting McDonald’s menus nationwide, Kit Kat Banana Split.

The fast food chain said the new dessert is made with a base of vanilla soft serve that’s “blended with real banana, strawberry clusters plus chocolatey, crunchy pieces of Kit Kat wafer bars in every bite.”

The limited time treat is available starting July 10 while supplies last at participating McDonald’s restaurants nationwide.

Garlic sauce and more new menu additions at McDonald’s this summer

On Monday, McDonald’s launched its first-ever garlic sauce in collaboration with a hit anime series for a limited time that will be available to customers exclusively via the app.

The new Special Grade Garlic Sauce, inspired by the Black Garlic Sauce from McDonald’s Japan, has “notes of garlic and soy sauce, balanced with a slight tangy sweetness.”

The new packaging features eight unique lid designs starring fan-favorite characters from the hit anime series Jujutsu Kaisen.

Customers can get the sauce for free with any Chicken McNuggets order placed through the McDonald’s app.

Next up, the Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder with Cheese — and its larger Double Quarter Pounder iteration with two patties — which first debuted in 2022, will return to McDonald’s menus on Tuesday for a limited time.

The sandwich is made with 100% beef, two slices of American cheese, three half strips of thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, fresh Roma tomatoes, shredded lettuce and a special, smoky BLT sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun.

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Business

TSA sets new single-day record with more than three million travelers at airport security

onurdongel/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The high volume of travelers in the United States passing through airport security after their Fourth of July getaways helped set a new single-day screening record for the Transportation Security Administration.

On Sunday, July 7, TSA officers screened 3,013,413 people at checkpoints nationwide, which surpassed the previous record of 2.99 million set on June 23, 2024, the agency announced Monday.

More people flew on an airplane in a single day in the U.S. on Sunday than on any other day in history since TSA was founded in November 2001.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas hailed the agency’s work as “an extraordinary achievement” in a congratulatory message on Monday.

“TSA fully, unerringly, and efficiently checked 35 passengers every second, along with all their luggage and carry-on baggage, while demonstrating unwavering professionalism and respect for travelers during the intensely busy holiday weekend,” he said. “Congratulations to the entire TSA workforce and Administrator David Pekoske.”

As air travel continues to skyrocket at “record-breaking” rates, which Mayorkas said is “expected to continue in the months ahead,” he urged lawmakers to consider the compensation of its agents.

“… It is imperative that Congress ensure pay fairness for TSA permanently,” he said. “It is the smart thing to do for everyone who depends on TSA to keep our skies and our country safe, and it is the right thing to do for these great public servants.”

He added that “for decades, TSA officers received less pay for their service than their government counterparts did,” citing that last year in partnership with Congress, DHS “secured long-overdue pay fairness” which he said has helped cut TSA workforce attrition in half, as well as increased recruitment rates, along with “improved morale and job satisfaction across the agency.”

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Business

How home-swapping has helped travelers save on vacation: What to know about the travel trend

Nadija Pavlovic/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — More travelers are turning away from hotels and short-term rental properties to instead explore the growing trend of home exchanges.

If it sounds familiar, you’ve most likely seen the hit 2006 rom-com The Holiday, where the two leading ladies swap living situations, one leaving her Los Angeles mansion to cozy up in the other’s cottage in the Cotswolds, and vice versa.

The trend has saved some families thousands of dollars on summer vacations: By switching homes with a friend, or even a vetted stranger, these getaways are a great way to avoid paying a pretty penny on lodging.

The current average nightly rate for a hotel in the U.S. this summer is $240, according to the popular travel booking company Hopper, which also found rental properties coming in at $182 per bedroom, per night, on average.

Instead of shelling out for a hotel, some, like Marina Wanders’ in Austin, Texas, have opted to trade properties with a stranger for free.

“You get to stay somewhere for free — and it it feels like you’re making friends, connections as you do this,” Wanders told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

The professional photographer and single mom first shared her story with the Wall Street Journal about finding a home swap for her kids’ summer break in a Facebook group.

Another woman interested in trying out the home swap system offered up her Dallas home, complete with a swimming pool, for a week in August.

“It’s almost like this will become our home for the week. And I think, you know, if I could afford this home, I would live in a house like this,” Wanders said. “It’s lovely just to get that experience right now.”

Many have taken their search to social media — with over 8.4 million “house swap” videos on TikTok alone — to make a digital connection with fellow travelers who might be looking to trade properties.

There are also companies like Home Exchange and People Like Us that list available homes to swap in exchange for an annual membership fee.

Brian Kelly, travel expert and founder of The Points Guy, told GMA that unlike short term rentals, there are some major differences to consider when swapping homes.

“This is not going to be like an Airbnb where it’s a blank slate. There may be clothes in the closet. But that can be a positive if you’re swapping with another family with small kids who already has the apparatus, the playground that can also alleviate a ton of stress from having to pack or buy those items,” he explained.

Expert tips for home exchange

Experts note that those interested in house-swapping should vet the owner before they do any sort of exchange, like asking for references and checking out any previous reviews.

You can also cross-check the property on Google Maps or in public records.

Finally, be sure to read your own home insurance policy to make sure it covers someone else staying in your home.

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Business

What is shoulder season? Experts weigh in with tips to save on airfare, hotels in opposite seasons

Craig Hastings/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — There’s still plenty of time to plan more fun in the sun summer getaways, but if you haven’t yet booked travel for shoulder season — or winter holidays — experts are sharing why now may be the sweet spot time of year to scope out savings.

What is shoulder season? How to save on travel during off-peak months

Jesse Neugarten, founder and CEO of Dollar Flight Club, understands the importance of finding the best offers on airfare and told Good Morning America that travelers can find “significant savings” during shoulder season.

“It refers to the periods between peak and off-peak travel times when destinations are less crowded and travel costs are generally lower,” she said.

The upcoming shoulder season in Europe, for example, during early autumn — September to October — “offers favorable weather without the high prices and large crowds of peak season,” she said.

“Traveling during shoulder season allows you to take advantage of reduced airfare and accommodation rates due to decreased demand, leaving more money in your wallet,” Neugarten explained.

Her company has sent out deal alerts on both domestic and international travel during this time period “such as round-trip flights to Europe for under $400 and within the U.S. for as low as $250.”

Neugarten added that “prices are on average 15% cheaper when looking at U.S. to Europe routes during the off season, but can be up to 25% cheaper on particular routes.”

“Additionally, some regions experience a brief shoulder season in January, following the holiday season,” she said. “As tourists head home, hotels and airlines often reduce prices, encouraging travelers to take advantage of quieter winter getaways.”

Fellow industry expert Daniel Green echoed her sentiments, adding that travel dates set just after the very end of summer typically come with price drops, since hotels and airlines alike “can’t guarantee that the weather will be what you expect,” depending on the destination.

Green, the co-founder and chief technology officer at Faye Travel Insurance, told GMA to think of it “like booking a ski vacation the day the slopes are due to open, even though it may not be snowing yet.”

“Because you’re taking that risk that your ski vacation will be spent entirely in the lodge — or your beach vacation might be spent under the wrong type of umbrella — there’s less demand for flights and accommodation, so you can save,” he said.

Like many in the space, Green also encouraged people to utilize tools like Google Flights, which he said “will often show you the price for an entire month, so you can easily see if the week before you intended to fly is half the price.”

Save on travel by booking now for the opposite season

Scott Keyes, another proponent of tracking flight prices, has regularly emphasized the importance of booking trips for the opposite season if you want to save on airfare. He previously told Good Morning America about the “Goldilocks window,” which is the ideal time to book a flight because “it’s not too early or too late” for the price to be just right.

“If you book 11 months in advance, you don’t see many cheap flights, but also, if you wait until a week or two before, your likelihood of a cheap flight at that point is gonna be very low,” the Going.com founder said.

Tips for booking cheap flights for winter during summer

Neugarten’s first suggestion is to start early: “Begin your search several months in advance to catch early bird deals. We recommend at least three months prior.”

Next, be flexible. “Flexibility with travel dates and destinations increases your chances of finding cheaper flights,” she said. “Keep an open mind for new places you haven’t explored yet.”

Like Green and Keyes, Neugarten said travelers should “sign up for free fare alerts,” whether it’s with her company or by utilizing tools like Google Flights and Hopper “to receive insights on optimal booking times and notifications of price drops.”

“Consider nearby airports — sometimes flying into or out of a nearby airport can be significantly cheaper,” Neugarten said. “Don’t be afraid to drive a little further to a different airport. You might save hundreds on the flight.”

Once you’re ready to book, she suggested going directly through the airline, because carriers “occasionally offer exclusive deals on their websites that are not available through third-party booking sites.”

“Also, make sure to keep an eye on points and miles deals during shoulder season,” she added.

What’s the 21-day rule for airfare bookings?

Keyes also reminded travelers to follow his golden rule of air travel, back-timing when to book based on your departure date in order to align with an airline’s “advanced purchase requirement,” found in the fine print of the fare terms and conditions.

“Pull up a calendar and circle 21 days before your travel date,” he said. “That needs to be your sort of drop-dead date to get your flights booked by.”

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Business

Boeing agrees in principle to deal with DOJ to plead guilty to misleading FAA during 737 MAX evaluation

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(FORT WORTH, Texas) — The Boeing Company has agreed in principle to a deal with the Department of Justice that will include a guilty plea to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. related to the company allegedly misleading the Federal Aviation Administration during the evaluation of the 737 MAX, according to a court filing from the DOJ.

“We can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department, subject to the memorialization and approval of specific terms,” Boeing said in a statement to ABC News early Monday morning.

In addition to the guilty plea, the agreement includes Boeing paying the maximum statutory fine and investing at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs.

The deal is not yet final, and families of the victims of the MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 have expressed their intention to oppose this plea agreement. The families have asked for an opportunity to file their opposition with the court, according to a court filing in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, Texas.

According to the DOJ’s court filing late Sunday night, the parties are “proceeding expeditiously to document and memorialize the terms and understandings into a written plea agreement and expect to file the agreement with the Court by no later than July 19, 2024.”

Some 189 people died when a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plunged into the Java Sea off Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018. Black box data from the Lion Air jet revealed the pilots struggled to fight the plane’s malfunctioning safety system from takeoff to the moment it nose-dived into the water.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 — another Boeing 737 MAX 8 — crashed five months later near Addis Ababa airport six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board.

In a separate court filing late Sunday night, attorneys for families of victims of the two MAX crashes indicated that they intend to exercise their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to be heard in opposition to the proposed plea.

“The families intend to argue that the plea deal with Boeing unfairly makes concessions to Boeing that other criminal defendants would never receive and fails to hold Boeing accountable for the deaths of 346 persons. As a result, the generous plea agreement rests on deceptive and offensive premises,” the attorneys wrote.

“At the upcoming hearing regarding the plea, families intend to ask the Court to reject the plea,” the filing states.

The families have asked that the court not set a scheduling order for the hearing until at least July 12 to give them ample time to file a briefing with their reasons why the court should reject the plea.

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Business

Employment gains continue as economy adds more than 200k jobs

KLH49/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The economy appears to be holding steady, with the arrival of the Labor Department’s latest jobs report.

Employers hired 206,000 workers in June, making for 42 consecutive months of growth, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the unemployment rate ticked higher to 4.1%, reaching that level for the first time since November 2021.

The strongest gains last month, occurred in government as well as the health care, social assistance and construction industries. 

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Business

Hatch Baby recalls nearly 1 million sound machine adapters due to shock hazard

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

(NEW YORK) — This story has been corrected to specify that the power adapters are being recalled.

Hatch, a popular sleep aid device company, has recalled more than 900,000 Rest 1st Generation sound machine adapters due to a shock hazard.

“In partnership and compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Hatch has issued a voluntary recall for power adapters issued with some Hatch Rest 1st generation devices, which were primarily sold between 2019 and 2022,” the company stated in an online recall notice.

“The recall is specific to power adapters issued by Jiangsu Chenyang Electron Co. after learning that the white housing of these power adapters can come off when removing them from the power outlet, leaving the power prongs exposed and posing a shock hazard to consumers,” the statement continued.

Hatch added on its website, “The company is pursuing this recall voluntarily as part of its commitment to consumer safety and incident prevention.”

Details of recall

About 919,400 products have been impacted by the recall, according to the CPSC.

The affected power adapters, which have a white rectangular plastic housing that plugs directly into the wall socket, bear the model number CYAP05 050100U.

“The model number, amps ‘1.0A,’ ‘Jiangsu Chenyang Electron Co. LTD,’ and ‘Made in China’ are printed in black near the prongs on the power adapter,” the CPSC stated. “The power adapter was not sold separately.”

Incidents reported

As of time of publication, Hatch said it has “received 19 reports of the plastic housing surrounding the AC power adapter coming off, including two reports of consumers who experienced a minor electrical shock.”
Where recalled products were sold

The Rest 1st Generation sound machines were sold online directly from the Hatch website and Amazon, as well as at BuyBuyBaby, Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn Kids and BestBuy stores nationwide from January 2019 through September 2022.

What consumers can do if they have a recalled product

“Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled power adapters sold with Rest 1st Generation sound machines, and contact Hatch for a free replacement power adapter,” CPSC stated. “Consumers should unplug the cord, cut the cord on the recalled power adapter, take a photo of the adapter showing the model number and the cut cord, upload the photo, and provide their name and mailing address at www.hatch.co/adapterrecall.”

The agency added, “Hatch is contacting all registered owners directly.”

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Business

Hatch Baby recalls nearly one million sound machines due to shock hazard

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

(NEW YORK) — Hatch, a popular sleep aid device company, has recalled more than 900,000 of its Rest 1st Generation sound machines due to a shock hazard.

“In partnership and compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Hatch has issued a voluntary recall for power adapters issued with some Hatch Rest 1st generation devices, which were primarily sold between 2019 and 2022,” the company stated in an online recall notice.

“The recall is specific to power adapters issued by Jiangsu Chenyang Electron Co. after learning that the white housing of these power adapters can come off when removing them from the power outlet, leaving the power prongs exposed and posing a shock hazard to consumers,” the statement continued.

Hatch added on its website, “The company is pursuing this recall voluntarily as part of its commitment to consumer safety and incident prevention.”

Details of Hatch sound machine recall

About 919,400 products have been impacted by the recall, according to the CPSC.

The affected power adapters, which have a white rectangular plastic housing that plugs directly into the wall socket, bear the model number CYAP05 050100U.

“The model number, amps ‘1.0A,’ ‘Jiangsu Chenyang Electron Co. LTD,’ and ‘Made in China’ are printed in black near the prongs on the power adapter,” the CPSC stated. “The power adapter was not sold separately.”

Incidents reported due to Hatch sound machines

As of time of publication, Hatch said it has “received 19 reports of the plastic housing surrounding the AC power adapter coming off, including two reports of consumers who experienced a minor electrical shock.”

Where recalled Hatch products were sold

The Rest 1st Generation sound machines were sold online directly from the Hatch website and Amazon, as well as at BuyBuyBaby, Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn Kids and BestBuy stores nationwide from January 2019 through September 2022.

What consumers can do if they have a recalled Hatch sound machine

“Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled power adapters sold with Rest 1st Generation sound machines, and contact Hatch for a free replacement power adapter,” CPSC stated. “Consumers should unplug the cord, cut the cord on the recalled power adapter, take a photo of the adapter showing the model number and the cut cord, upload the photo, and provide their name and mailing address at www.hatch.co/adapterrecall.”

The agency added, “Hatch is contacting all registered owners directly.”

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Business

More than 4,000 pounds of liquid eggs recalled from nine states

USDA

(NEW YORK) — More than 4,600 pounds of liquid egg products have been pulled from shelves due to “misbranding and undeclared allergens.”

Michael Foods Inc. has issued a recall on approximately 4,620 pounds of liquid egg products that contained milk, which is a known allergen but was not declared on the product label, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Sunday.

Details about liquid egg recall

“The problem was discovered during a routine carton inventory evaluation. The establishment notified FSIS when it discovered that a limited amount of Whole Egg with Citric Acid cartons was unaccounted for, and there was a corresponding excess of Breakfast Blend Scrambled Egg carton in inventory,” the FSIS stated. “The unaccounted Whole Egg with Citric Acid cartons were inadvertently utilized during a single short Breakfast Blend Scrambled Egg production run. The Breakfast Blend formulation contains an allergen, a dairy ingredient (milk), which is not declared on the Whole Egg with Citric Acid label.”

Recalled liquid egg product information

According to the FSIS, the recalled items were produced June 11, 2024. Impacted products include 32-ounce paperboard cartons containing the name “FAIR MEADOW Foundations WHOLE EGGS with CITRIC ACID” with a use by date of Sept. 16, 2024 (“16 SEP 24” on the carton), and the lot code 4162G.

“This product is packaged within a corrugated case labeled Scrambled Egg Blend with the same use by date and lot code,” the agency stated.

The recalled liquid eggs also bear an establishment number “EST. G1455” inside the USDA mark of inspection, the FSIS said.

Where recalled liquid egg products were sold

According to the FSIS announcement, the recalled products were “shipped to restaurant consignees for institutional use in Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, and Utah.”

What restaurants should do with recalled liquid eggs

The agency said it is “concerned that some product may be in institutional, restaurant refrigerators” and urged those establishments “not to serve these products.”

“These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase,” the recall announcement stated.

As of time of publication, the FSIS stated that there have been “no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.”

A representative for Michael Foods Inc. did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for additional comment.

“Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Kristina Larsen, Director Customer Service, Michael Foods Inc. at 952-258-4903 or kristina.larsen@michaelfoods.com,” the FSIS said Sunday, adding that those with general food safety questions may “call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) or send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov.”

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Business

Where is the stock market headed in the 2nd half of 2024?

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The stock market defied expectations with a strong performance over the first half of 2024. But the success poses a key question for investors: Is there room for stocks to go even higher?

The S&P 500 climbed nearly 15% over the first six months of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed about 4% over that period, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq soared roughly 18%.

Analysts who spoke to ABC News attributed the strong gains to enthusiasm about artificial intelligence as well as resilient economic growth and expectations that interest rates would ease.

But, experts predicted, the stock market will likely struggle to sustain its breakneck growth over the remainder of the year as investors turn away from increasingly high prices and weather uncertainty centered on the economic outlook and the November election.

“It has been a very impressive start to the year,” Adam Turnquist, chief technical strategist at LPL Financial, told ABC news. “But as we look toward the second half, on a short term basis, we think the market is overbought.”

Despite straining under the weight of the highest interest rates in two decades, the U.S. economy has sustained solid growth. Meanwhile, U.S job gains have remained robust, exceeding expectations and driving significant wage increases.

Progress, however, in the fight against inflation has largely stalled. Even so, the Fed has indicated that an additional rate increase is unlikely, instead forecasting one rate cut by the end of 2024.

“The markets have welcomed the fact that we’re likely to see rate cuts,” Turnquist said.

Those wider economic trends have coincided with a burst of investor appetite for tech firms leading the adoption of AI. Major stock indexes drew a bump from investors optimistic about the potential benefits of products like ChatGPT.

Those gains were concentrated primarily in a handful of tech giants, known as the magnificent seven: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Tesla and Nvidia. Even within that group, the gains were enjoyed primarily by a select few.

The stock price of Nvidia — the maker of many computer chips driving AI advances — has climbed nearly 150% since the outset of 2024. Microsoft, which owns a major stake in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, has seen its shares soar more than 20% this year.

“The AI effect has helped market sentiment and deservedly so,” Mike Loukas, CEO of TrueMark Investments, told ABC News. “But a handful of concentrated stocks seem to carry the market at any given time.”

In light of the gangbusters performance at the outset of this year, experts warned that the stock market would likely struggle to sustain the returns. At a basic level, the rise in stock prices that stretches back to last year will eventually reach a point where traders become reluctant to pour in funds at an elevated price tag, the analysts said.

“There needs to be a reset button from these overbought conditions,” Turnquist said.

Even more, the positive trends in the economy face a number of threats. Most notably, the ongoing combination of high interest rates and stubborn inflation could weigh on corporate profits and wear investor patience thin.

“The whole dance — rate cuts or no rate cuts; inflation or no inflation — I think that continues,” Loukas said. “We’re still pretty sensitive as a whole to macroeconomic factors.”

Such economic uncertainty is compounded by a wide range of possible outcomes in the November election, Loukas added.

“The election is going to be a wild variable,” Loukas said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in what’s happening and the market is still trying to price that in.”

Loukas forecasted growth in the stock market over the remainder of 2024, but he said the pace would fall short of the surge experienced over the first half.

Turnquist, of LPL Financial, echoed that view. The stock market could rise slightly by the end of the year, he said, but companies will weather a more challenging environment.

“There’s still a risk that the battle isn’t over with the Fed,” he added.

Still, Turquist noted, the outlook for the market beyond this year remains favorable. “We’re still in a long-term uptrend,” he said.

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