NEW YORK — More Americans will hit the road this holiday weekend than a year ago, and they will have a bit more money to spend thanks to lower gas prices.

Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season, and since pump prices never reached $4 or $5 a gallon, as feared, economists said travelers are likely to dine out or shop more once they pull off the road.

About 30.7 million people will drive more than 50 miles for Memorial Day trips, according to auto club AAA. That’s 400,000 more than last year, a jump AAA attributes to improvement in the economy and consumer attitudes.

The number of holiday travelers grows to 34.8 million when planes, trains and other means of transportation are included.

NEW YORK — Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a sizable stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp. and is calling for at least four of the company’s directors to be replaced. Icahn spent about $785 million to buy 50.1 million shares, or 7.6 percent, of the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer.

The move comes as Chesapeake has been hit hard by falling natural gas prices. The company also is being criticized for allowing CEO Aubrey McClendon to borrow money from companies that do business with Chesapeake, and allowing him the perk of buying personal stakes in company wells.

NEW YORK — Women’s clothier Talbots said Friday that a deadline expired without a deal in its exclusive talks about being acquired by a private equity firm, and that it will actively pursue other options.

Sycamore Partners told the company that “it is not prepared to execute a transaction at this time.” Sycamore had previously indicated it would pay $3.05 a share. The end of the talks sent Talbots’ stock down $1.05, or 41 percent, to close at $1.51 Friday.

WASHINGTON — A better hiring outlook and lower gas prices have pushed U.S. consumer confidence to its highest level in 41/2 years.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment jumped to 79.3 in May, up from 76.4 in the previous month. That’s the best reading since October 2007, two months before the recession began.

GENEVA — China filed World Trade Organization cases Friday challenging U.S. anti-subsidy tariffs on 22 Chinese goods, including steel, widening a conflict between the two giant trading partners.

China began its challenge by requesting consultations with the United States through the WTO to resolve the dispute. If that fails, China can request a ruling by a WTO panel.

DALLAS — The maker of Tide Pods will create a new double-latch lid to deter children from accessing and eating the brightly colored detergent packets, a company spokesman said Friday.

P&G spokesman Paul Fox said the company plans to create a new lid on tubs of Tide Pods “in the next couple of weeks.” The company continues to study the design of the package, Fox said.

Doctors said children sometimes swallow Tide Pods and similar laundry products, 1-inch packets that are meant to be dropped into a washing machine in place of liquid or powder detergent.

Nearly 250 cases nationally have been reported to poison control centers this year. No deaths have been reported.

Wire reports