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The Consumer Confidence Index plunged to a five-year low in March, falling from a revised 76.4 in February to 64.5, The Conference Board, a business-backed research group, reported Tuesday. Lower confidence generally leads to less consumer buying.

The state of Virginia has offered $100,000 settlements to each of 32 families who lost a relative in last year's Virginia Tech massacre, as well as to the families of dozens of surviving victims, media sources learned Monday.

The Justice Department said Monday that it approved a proposed $5 billion merger of two satellite radio rivals, Sirius and XM, because the deal won't hurt consumers, who benefit from ever-expanding media options. The transaction still requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Three licensed mortgage brokers and 16 associates face charges of cheating homeowners across the country, US officials said Monday in announcing the results of "Operation Homewrecker," one of the largest FBI/IRS mortgage fraud probes ever. The defendants allegedly scammed 115 homeowners facing foreclosures into turning over the titles of their houses.

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