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NYS consumer confidence hits low for the year

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Marcin Wichary
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Purchasing power: Consumer confidence is lagging in NYS for the fourth straight month.

Despite the summer sunshine, a gloomy mood tops your morning roundup.

The glass is half empty

Consumer confidence continues to decline in the state, according to the latest poll out from the Siena College Research Institute. Matthew Daneman reports for the Democrat and Chronicle that pessimism is worse upstate:

The number 75 is the break-even point where negative and positive feelings balance each other out. June's index reading of 63.3 marked a low for the year in confidence about current economic conditions and was the fourth straight month of decline… The June reading for the New York City area was 63.7, compared with 62.9 for upstate. And when consumers were asked about where they see the economy going, the upstate-downstate gap widened significantly, to 9 points.

The tank is also half empty

One problem for people in Western New York could be that they're paying more at the pump than other Americans. Daneman also reports that the gap between the national average price of gasoline and the price in WNY is widening:

The difference now is about 12 cents, up from a 6- or 7-cent gap a month ago. The reasons why “remain a mystery,” said Shaun Seufert, spokesman for AAA of Western and Central New York. While some of it can be chalked up to taxes, “typically there isn’t more than a nickel difference between western and central New York,” he said.

Are robots the best medicine? Maybe not.

James T. Mulder reports for the Post Standard that although many hospitals tout their high-tech da Vinci robots as, "the most effective, least invasive surgical treatments available," there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim:

That bothers Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins University of School of Medicine. He recently co-authored a study that found many U.S. hospital websites overstate the benefits of robotic surgery, largely ignore the risks and use text, photos and videos provided by the robot’s manufacturer to educate patients. He and his colleagues reviewed 400 randomly selected websites of 400 U.S. hospitals with 200 beds or more. “It’s one thing to play with new technology and say you have it. That’s fine,” said Makary, whose study was published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality. “What crosses the line is when hospitals are dishonest about marketing or turn over the marketing to the industry under the hospital’s banner.”

New invention could be a lifesaver

Buffalo businessman, Al Shaw, has developed a new device called The Butterfly Smoke Seal to help people trapped in burning buildings. Matt Glynn reports for the Buffalo News that the seal slides underneath doors to block smoke and poisonous gas:

Shaw, president of Buffalo-based Butterfly Safety Products, won an award for his product at the Invention & New Product Exposition, or INPEX, in Pittsburgh last month, which drew 900 people. He will present the smoke seal later this year to a New York State fire marshals group, and aspires to move it into production.

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