Solid jobs report: Employers added 132,000 workers to their payrolls in June - slightly more than expected - and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent. Also, the Labor Department upped the number of new jobs in May to 190,000 (that's a strong revision) and wages grew. All this suggests that the economy has more traction than some had believed - and it also lessens the prospect for a drop in interest rates. Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said in a speech today that keeping interest rates unchanged is the best way to achieve faster growth and slower inflation in the U.S. economy. Stocks are sliding around this morning because of inflation worries. (Bloomberg)
Suspect Hilton options: There's suspicious and then there's obvious. About 22,000 call options on Hilton changed hands during the half-day session on Tuesday, roughly eight times the average daily volume of these contracts. The heaviest activity was in call options that gave traders the right to pay $40 for Hilton by late August. Blackstone Group has agreed to buy the Bev Hills-based hotel chain for $47.50 a share. Hello? Any regulators out there? (WSJ)
Hollywood landmarks for sale: The family that owns a 10-acre site that's home to the Magic Castle and Yamashiro restaurant are being flooded with offers from developers. There's talk that the bids have topped $70 million, which is a bunch of money considering that redevelopment opportunities could be limited (terms of any sale will stipulate that Yamashiro and the Magic Castle must stay). The owners are 11 descendants of Thomas O. Glover, who bought Yamashiro for – sitting down? - $150,000 in 1948. From the LAT:
Shaul Kuba, one of Hollywood's leading landlords, said land in Hollywood was becoming so expensive that buyers were at risk of overpaying. If a developer pays too much for land, he may find that he is not be able to build at all because his final costs would be too high to make a profitable return, said Kuba, whose company, CIM Group, owns the Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment center and several other commercial properties. To make a profit from the Yamashiro and Magic Castle site after paying $70 million or $80 million, a developer would have to build 500 to 800 condominiums, Kuba said. "Is this going to be a project that the community is willing to accept?"
Dutton's lives on: Not sure what took so long, but billionaire Charles Munger finally relented on plans to build 60 luxury condos that would have threatened the beloved bookstore. Instead, he'll be putting up a two-story retail complex that would retain Dutton's Brentwood Books. "Bookstores are fragile," he said. "Jostle them slightly and they never reopen. The best thing is to make sure it never closes" (he said he'll charge Dutton "a very low rate") (LAT)
Gas prices keep dropping: It's now eight weeks in a row, according to the Auto Club's latest survey - and that differs from a year ago when prices started rising during the July 4th holiday week. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.114, which is 3.3 cents cheaper than last week, 24 cents below last month, and 13 cents under last year.
Union talking tough: Maybe there will be a strike after all. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said it was prepared to implement a 72-hour cancellation of the rolling contract extension going back to last March. This is the first time they've raised that possibility and it comes as the union selects strike captains and prints picket signs and, well, starts to get ready. Contract talks have recessed until next week. (LAT)
Tales of Mirthala: Boy, talk about how not to handle a company crisis. While Telemundo (Channel 52) continues to issue silly statements that say nothing - and anchorwoman Mirthala Salinas does much the same - stuff is starting to trickle out. The Daily News, citing a source, says that Salina had requested several times that she not be asked to report the news of Villaraigosa's divorce, but that the request was denied. Who knows?
New Century inquiry now "formal": That gives the SEC the power to subpoena the Irvine, Calif.-based mortgage lender that is liquidating into bankruptcy (er, what took the feds so long?). The government is looking into accounting errors and trades that were made ahead of February's disclosure about restating results. Last month, a Delaware bankruptcy judge appointed a securities enforcement expert to snoo around for evidence of possible misconduct at the company. (Reuters)
Reilly talking to Fox: That's Kevin Reilly, who was unceremoniously dumped as head of NBC Entertainment. Variety is reporting that Reilly has been talking to Fox about becoming head of programming at that network. Peter Liguori, who current runs the programming side, would take on a broader role overseeing the network (no specifics). The talks are said to be at an early stage, so who knows where this might go. Actually, Reilly worked under Liguori as president of FX.