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Plans to dismantle Fannie and Freddie; Americans think U.S. still in recession; Food prices on the rise

Hot Stock Minute

Stock futures were pointing lower as investors wait for a new round of readings on the economy. Overall, stocks remain near all-time highs with the S&P 500 just off its latest record-close. But investors are uncertain about the economy, the rate of growth for the year and how much of a factor the weather will play in slowing that growth through the first few months of the year. That uncertainty is showing up across the country. A new Wall Street Journal-NBC News polls finds 57% of Americans still believe the United States is in a recession right now. The official arbiter of recessions, the National Bureau of Economic Research, says the recession ended in June of 2009, nearly 5 years ago. In the associated video, Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Aaron Task offers an explanation for that disconnect.

Nearly six years after the government bailed out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a bipartisan Senate panel agreed on plans to wind down the two long-struggling entities. The plan would replace Fannie and Freddie with a new system of federally-insured mortgage securities where private insurers would take a loss of at least 10% before a government guarantee. The bill still faces a long road to approval in Congress.

Federal prosecutors from New York reportedly are investigating whether General Motors (GM) is criminally responsible for not properly disclosing a problem with an ignition switch that has been linked to 12 deaths. According to Reuters, the government is looking into how GM handled reports of ignition switches that suddenly turned off and cut off power to systems, including airbags. GM recalled 1.6 million cars last month over the issue, though the problems first came to light ten years ago. Committees in both the House and Senate are looking into the issue as well.

Tesla (TSLA) will no longer be selling its cars in New Jersey as of April 1st. That is after New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission yesterday said the company needed to sell its cars through franchised auto dealers, rather than directly to customers as it does now. Arizona and Texas have also blocked Tesla from selling its cars directly, according to Tesla. The company's stock has been on quite a tear, up 500% in the last year.

Standard & Poor’s announced that it will include both classes of Google (GOOG) stock in its indexes when the company launches new Class C shares next month. The move is a shift from S&P's previous announcement that it would drop one class of shares on June 20th. The decision marks a change in S&P policy and means there will be more than 500 stocks in the S&P 500, although there will still be just 500 companies listed in the index.

According to a report from the United Nations, global food prices climbed 2.6% last month because of weather. Instability in Ukraine, the world's sixth-largest grain producer, could cause more volatility in the future. There is also a new warning that an "El Nino" weather system could be emerging that would affect food prices. In our poll today, we want to know: have rising food prices changed your grocery shopping habits? Vote in our poll and leave a comment below.