Consumer confidence rises

Record numbers of state residents expect to purchase an automobile, computer or furniture in the next six months, the Siena College Research Institute said Friday. In a survey, 14.1 percent of people said last month they hoped to buy a car or truck and 23.9 percent said furniture. Those were the highest levels for both categories in five years. The number of residents expecting to buy a computer also hit an eight-year high of 19.2 percent. "This bodes well for the holiday season," said Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom. He said the figures were not influenced by the need of Sandy victims to replace lost possessions. Separately, the superstorm appears not to have hurt consumer confidence in the metropolitan region. Siena's confidence index rose 2.5 points in November to 83.1 for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs. The index was the highest it has been since July 2007. Readings above 76 points indicate more people are optimistic about their financial future than are pessimistic.


Man held on bribe charges

A Long Island man surrendered to federal authorities in Bridgeport, Conn., on charges of bribery, federal authorities said Friday. Patrick Pinto, 44, of Bohemia, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank bribery, and could face a maximum of five years in jail. Prosecutors said Pinto, a former vice president at debt collection firm the Oxford Collection Agency, made monthly payments to officials at two commercial banks in order to retain their business. The complaint said Pinto made monthly payments ranging from $2,500 to $5,000, hidden in cigar boxes, to executives at U.S. Bank, a national commercial banking company based in Minnesota, and made payments to another unnamed bank executive who visited Oxford's offices every Friday. Pinto's lawyer, Francis Casele, called the charges "unfounded" and said, "my client in the long run will be vindicated." Earlier this year, Pinto's father, Richard, and brother, Peter, former executives at Oxford, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and money fraud, and one count of wire fraud. -- LISA DU


Credit card use up in Oct.

Americans swiped their credit cards more often in October and borrowed more to attend school and buy cars. The increases drove U.S. consumer debt to an all-time high. The Federal Reserve said Friday consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion in October from September. Total borrowing rose to a record $2.75 trillion. The strong rise in borrowing came in a month when Americans cut back on consumer spending, reflecting in part disruptions from superstorm Sandy. -- AP

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