• iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The auto industry will close out 2017 with U.S. sales of 17.1 million units -- its first sales decline in seven years. How will automakers respond? And will SUVs and CUVs continue their domination in 2018? Here are the five biggest trends to watch for drivers and carmakers. Car sales Auto sales in 2018 will be “OK but not great,” according to Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. He predicts automakers across the board will offer generous incentives to boost sales. “It’s great for consumers … there are fantastic deals right now,” he noted. “Automakers are still trying to clean out inventory.” There are several reasons for the dip. Consumers are holding onto cars longer because reliability “is the best it’s ever been,” he said. People are also choosing used cars, a trend that has diluted new car sales. Moreover, 3 million lease vehicles are coming back to the market, adding to supply. Almost a third of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. are now leased, according to Brandon Mason, a director in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ automotive practice. “You can get a lot more car for your money with a used vehicle,” Sargent said. Automakers can still bank on sales of SUVs and CUVs and are about to flood the market with an influx of new models. “If an automaker’s lineup is heavily sedan, it’s a very uncomfortable place to be,” Sargent said. “Consumers are leaving this segment in droves.” Even though SUVs can be more expensive than sedans, “Consumers are willing to pay for the utility they get … which is hard to pass up,” according to Rebecca Lindland, an executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Mason said light trucks, a category that includes SUVs and CUVs, hold a 64 percent market share versus 36 percent for passenger cars. He forecasts U.S. sales of 16.7 million to 16.8 million units in 2018. “Still a healthy number,” he said. Fewer subprime loans could also affect sales. Subprime financing declined significantly in the third quarter of 2017, according to Experian data. “Whether the industry can remain disciplined on things like subprime financing, incentives and fleet sales will be closely watched in 2018,” Mason added. For Eddie Alterman, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine, next year’s slowdown can be attributed to another factor: “People who wanted to buy new cars have already bought them.”
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  • Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Homeowners in high-tax states are scrambling to prepay their 2018 property taxes this year before President Donald Trump’s overhaul goes into effect.Residents in New York, like others around the country, are rushing to file because the new tax code, signed into law last week, limits the amount of state and local taxes people can deduct on their federal returns, according to Donald Clavin, town receiver of taxes in Hempstead, New York. The change could cost some homeowners, especially those in high-tax states, thousands of dollars.“Under the new federal tax code, many Long Islanders are going to lose out on valuable tax deductions,” Clavin wrote in a statement Tuesday. “In our office, we’ve helped a significant number of taxpayers during the holiday season who are seeking to get the ‘gift’ of a tax deduction before the opportunity runs out.”He said there will now be a $10,000 cap on the amount of property taxes that can be written off.The new deductions cap will impact homeowners in some states much more than others, including those in California, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.The rush in New York came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed an executive order on Friday to allow residents to prepay their 2018 property tax, a move he said could help people to “postpone the pain” for the upcoming year."You can partially prepay or fully prepay and get your deductions for your property tax payment," Cuomo said in a statement. "At least this device will postpone the pain for one year."Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, also passed legislation to allow residents to prepay their property taxes.“For weeks, many of us have bemoaned the Republican tax bill for a host of reasons. But high on the list was how punitive it is to high-cost, "blue" states and counties like ours,” Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who proposed the bill, said in a statement Tuesday. “Capping the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000 will take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of a big chunk of our residents, almost 40 percent of whom itemize their deductions on Wednesday."“There may be other steps that we can and should take going forward to help others hurt by the federal bill, and we should be supportive of those. But this is the only step we, at the local level, can and should take to help our residents right now,” he added.Experts warned that homeowners should consult their accountants before prepaying."I can't speak to the fact that the IRS is going to allow this as a deduction, but the governor made the executive order. And to accommodate his order, we came in here, we implemented a plan, and we're going to help the residents as much as we can," Clavin said in an interview with New York ABC station WABC-TV on Tuesday.He said his office plans to extend its hours on Saturday and Sunday -- the final two days of the year.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(MICHIGAN CITY, Ind.) -- A plane slid off the runway and crashed through a fence at an Indiana airport Wednesday morning, the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office said.The incident at the Michigan City Municipal Airport in Michigan City, about 65 miles from Chicago, comes amid brutal temperatures and heavy lake-effect snow near the Great Lakes. No one was injured in the incident, officials said.This story is developing. Please check back for more updates.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In Maine, one of the hardest jobs to fill is one that is quite necessary as the state enters winter months: clearing the roads.The Wall Street Journal reports the state is struggling to find snowplow drivers to clear the roads during snow storms. According to the Wall Street Journal, Maine's Department of Transportation lists around 50 openings as the state anticipates snow from mid-November to as late as mid-April.The paper's report cites cities sush as Portland hiring its own drivers and offering higher rates, demand for more experienced drivers among the private sector, and a shortage of workers as reasons for the struggle to fill jobs.The report notes Maine's unemployment is just 3.5%, one of the lowest rates of any state in the country as of October.The Wall Street Journal additionally describes snow plowing as a demanding job that consists of extended shifts and limited financial reward. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Paramount (NEW YORK) -- Netflix has options for viewers of all ages who are looking to spend some quiet time in front of a screen this Christmas.From classics ("White Christmas") to comedies ("Bojack Horseman Christmas Special") to franchises ("The Santa Clause"), fans of every genre should be able to find something to pass the time.And for those who prefer something non-holiday related, there are plenty of newly-available releases this month on the streaming service, and others like it.Holiday movies on Netflix include:
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those lucky enough to unwrap some hot tech toys this Christmas, here is a roundup of what you need to know to get your new gadgets to work, and to make sure they're properly protected. Voice assistants
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