Thursday morning headlines

Market alert: This might be a rocky session, coming one day after the Dow set an all-time record high. The Shanghai market was sharply lower today, as were exchanges throughout Asia. And yet, earnings among the big players - Merrill Lynch, Bank of America and eBay - continue to be strong. Google is expected to report another smashing quarter after the market closes today. In the first hour of trading, the Dow is down 37 points.

Tribune posts loss: The Chicago-based parent of the LAT is going private not a moment too soon. Its latest Wall Street numbers are downright ugly. Tribune posted a first-quarter loss of $15.6 million (some of that the result of an after-tax investment loss). The really glum news was an 18 percent decline in operating profit at its publishing division - much of it the result of declining classified ad revenue. All told, ad revenues were down 6 percent as increases at Chicago and South Florida were more than offset by decreases at Newsday and Los Angeles. By the way, thereís no earnings conference call to explain the numbers. Thatís what happens when thereís only one guy who really matters. PR Newswire

Amgen shares jumping: There are so many studies coming out of the Thousand Oaks-based biotech firm that it's sometimes hard to makes heads or tails of the really big ones. But for what it's worth a study of lung cancer patients using the company's anemia drug Aranesp showed no statistically significant difference in risk of death. And Amgen stock is through the roof this morning, up over 6 percent in early trading. DJ

Rents nudging higher: The monthly average for L.A. Metro (including OC) was $1,588 in the first quarter, up 1.5 percent from the previous three months. Various explanations are cited for the sluggish increase, including tenants moving to cheaper locales and frustrated condo owners leasing out their units to would-be renters. Socal rents have soared by about 20 percent over the last four years. The $1,588 L.A. average compared with $538 in Tulsa. LAT

Fremont sellout: Top executives of the Santa Monica-based financial services company, including the president and CEO, sold about $8.8 million worth of stock in January - right before the company got trapped in the subprime mess. The stock was sold at $16.21 a share and was part of a program that allows executives to unload restricted shares back to Fremont. A company spokesman said the executives had no idea when they sold their shares that the government was about to issue a cease-and-desist order barring Fremont from approving any more subprime loans. AP

Help for subprimers: Freddie Mac will buy as much as $20 billion in subprime mortgages and Washington Mutual is offering to refinance $2 billion in loans gone bad from the subprime problems - and at discounted rates. At least 50 lenders have failed since the beginning of last year and foreclosures rose 47 percent in March from a year earlier. The help from Freddie Mac and Wamu comes as Congressional leaders appear to be stepping away from earlier talk about some sort of bailout. LAT

Ticketmaster sues eBay: The West Hollywood-based ticket agency alleges in an L.A. Superior Court lawsuit that eBay's StubHub subsidiary is selling "official premium tickets" to the coming Lynyrd Skynyrd/Hank Williams Jr. "Rowdy Frynds" tour. Ticketmaster has the exclusive right to sell tickets to events at the venues on the tour, according to the suit. Those include the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. WSJ

The BlackBerry story: Lots and lots of coverage on yesterday's outage, which was an extremely big deal for several million users worldwide and a non-story for most everyone else. LAT NYT


More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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Siri versus Hawaiian pidgin (video)
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
 
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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