Strong jobs report: Actually, too strong to suit Wall Street. U.S. payrolls increased by 167,000 jobs last month - much higher than the 115,000 forecast in a Dow Jones survey - and that's gotten the equity markets concerned that the Fed might decide to raise interest rates. That's bad news for stocks and explains why the Dow was down around 75 points at 9:30. (Some sour earnings news from Motorola isn't helping.) The jobless rate was unchanged at 4.5 percent. State and county numbers will be out later this month. Bloomberg
Music in 2006: Digital music sales saved the industry's bacon last year, with purchases of albums, singles, music videos and and digital tracks reaching 1.2 billion units, up nearly 20 percent from 2005. The bad news is that the number of albums sold fell almost 5 percent - a decline that was only partly offset by a big increase in digital tracks sold. LAT Top selling artists: Interesting comparison on album sales compared with digital track sales. Rascal Flatts and Nickelback are the only artists making the top five in both categories. On album sales, the list also includes Johnny Cash, Carrie Underwood and the Beatles, while for digital sales, there's The Fray, All-American Rejects and Justin Timberlake. Numbers are from Nielsen Soundscan.
Gas prices drop: Not by much, though - eight-tenths of one cent lower than last week, according to the latest Auto Club survey. The average price of self-serve regular in L.A. is 42 cents higher than a year ago. The tumble in oil prices should be reflected at the pump over the next couple of weeks - maybe.
Tribune coverage: This morning's stories on the McCormick Foundation hiring the Blackstone Group as an advisor during the Tribune Co. auction - or whatever it's being called - suggest that the foundation was not likely to make a bid, certainly not itself. It just doesn't have the resources. The LAT story quoted an unnamed media executive as saying that it was a defensive maneuver against possible low-ball bidders (the foundation has a 12 percent stake in Tribune).
Another Kerkorian miss: The Beverly Hills billionaire was willing to buy up to 15 million shares of MGM Mirage, but so far only 445,000 shares have been tendered. So much for any talk of a takeover, although he now has a 56 percent in the casino operator. Kerkorian was offering a 12 percent premium on MGM stock. Bloomberg
Sluggish in Valley: Holiday sales were up about 4 percent, according to Jack Kyser, chief economist of the LA County Economic Development Corp. That's slightly lower than the 5 percent forecast. Daily News