Jobs report: Never mind that the nation’s gross domestic product barely moved in the first quarter. Nonfarm payrolls increased 157,000 in May and the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.5 percent - signs of a rebounding economy. Economists had expected that the first quarter would be this year's low point, and the new report would seem to support that view. The local jobless numbers for May come out in a couple of weeks and we'll see if L.A. County's unemployment rate will dip from the OK-but-not-great 5 percent level in April. Wall Street is taking this morning's job report in stride - the Dow is up just a touch at midday. Bloomberg
L.A. Live's new hotels: AEG's 54-story, $900 million hotel and condo complex, which has gone through a bunch of financial fits and starts, is finally being rescued by Wachovia Corp. and the investment firm MacFarlane Partners. It's the centerpiece of the L.A. Live development, and downtown boosters consider it to be the most important component in drumming up more convention business. AEG President Tim Leiweke, who will formally announce the new financial partners today, modestly told the LAT that "it will change the economy of not just downtown but of Los Angeles." JW Marriott and upscale Ritz-Carlton will operate separate hotels in the building on Olympic Boulevard. Combined, there will be 1,001 guest rooms when the hotels open in 2010. Wachovia's interest makes sense, since it's making a big push into California's banking market with the purchase of World Savings parent Golden West Financial.
Misconduct at Wellpoint: Still no specifics on the unexpected departure of David Colby, CFO of Blue Cross of California's parent company. Colby had been based in Thousand Oaks for many years before the Blue Cross-Wellpoint merger, and he was highly regarded on Wall Street (some considered him a candidate to eventually become CEO). So what happened? An internal investigation concluded that Colby had violated WellPoint's code of conduct, which covers policies ranging from sexual harassment to alcohol and drug use to writing comments on Internet blogs and chat rooms. WellPoint executives would only say that Colby’s infraction was not illegal and did not relate to the company’s business. Indianapolis Business Journal
Will DJ goes higher than $60?: That was the betting on Wall Street this morning, with Dow Jones shares up 14 percent to almost $61 a share (it had been around $36 at the time of the bid). For now, Murdoch is offering $60, but there's been talk in the last week or two that the Bancroft family, who controls the voting shares, would push for more, perhaps $65. Given today's trading, that would seem a given. So why did the Bancrofts, who at first had signaled little enthusiasm in the Murdoch offer, decide to essentially put their company on the block? Apparently, it was a bunch of stuff: a persuasive presentation to the family by DJ CEO Richard Zannino, who said that the company would have a tough time going at it alone, growing restlessness from DJ's institutional investors, and the proposed merger of Reuters and Thomson. From the NYT:
“There’s been a whole series of stages of this,” another family member said. “It wasn’t any one event or one time that people came around. But this consensus has been evolving over the last couple of weeks as we watched what’s in the news, as we talked to investment advisers.”
Grocer looks for Mercury: Carson-based Bristol Farms began testing its seafood about a month ago, the first Socal retailer to use a mercury screening method. Micro Analytical Systems Inc. will test Bristol Farms fish on the docks as the grocer takes possession of the product from the distributor, American Fish & Seafood Co. The CEO of Bristol Farms told the Daily Breeze that it's just a way to reassure customers, though a University of Florida seafood specialist said that the mercury issue is overblown.
More layoffs at Circuit City: This time, the retailer focused on about 650 managers, including a bunch locally. You might remember that several thousand folks were let go two months back because they were paid too much. "The company is making changes that taken together represent the next phase of our transformation," said a spokeswoman. Let's see, would that mean fewer, more inexperienced salespeople? Really gives you the urge to drop in and buy a $3,000 TV. Daily News