Writers closing in on deal: The WGA board was briefed on the outline for a new contract and appear to be satisfied. There still isn't an actual document - that will probably happen at the end of the week. Everyone - media included - is still saying that it could all fall apart, but barring some major turnabout it's looking like writers might be returning to work as early as next week. From Variety:
The sides reached an agreement over the weekend to modify the terms of the Web-streaming compensation formula in the third year of the contract that insiders say has gone a long way to ease WGA concerns about being locked into a rigid formula in a key growth area. Insiders said the mood was very positive at WGA West headquarters Monday afternoon as negotiating committee members and WGA West board members received separate briefings on the developments of the weekend's contract talks. Making the presentations to both groups were WGA West prexy Patric Verrone, WGA West exec director David Young and Bowman.
Another bad sign: Ever hear of the monthly index of the Institute for Supply Management? Didn't think so. It's one of those duller-than-dull economic indicators that rarely gets any attention, except when the economy is about to turn. Well, in January, the index plunged to 41.9 from December's 54.4. Readings over 50 indicate growth; forecasters had expected the index to have hit 52.5 for the month. Result: stocks are way down this morning. (WSJ)
Chernin: No sign of a slowdown: The News Corp. COO said pricing at Fox remains very strong for both entertainment and sports. Also, Fox plans to hold its May upfront ad presentations, as scheduled. News Corp, which owns Fox News and the Fox television network, says its fiscal 2008 operating income would grow in the mid-teens percentage range, above its previous estimate in the low teens. Sunday's Super Bowl alone generated $250 million in TV network ad revenue. (Reuters)
Good year for stocks?: They're rolling out the old Super Bowl Predictor - and heck, why not? Nothing else seems to be working. This very weird indicator has called the right direction of the Dow 33 out of 41 times – not infallible, but pretty good. With the New York Giants' win, the indicator is pointing "up" for stocks. (Whenever an "original" NFL team wins, the market rises; it falls when the winner is an old AFL team.) Of course, one of the Dow's worst drops in recent years came after the Patriots' Super Bowl win against the St. Louis Rams in 2002. (WSJ)
Fill 'er up: Gas prices are starting to go up all over the U.S. - but not in L.A. or California. The government's latest survey shows that the average price of self-serve regular in L.A. was $3.060, down a nickel or so from last week. By the way, a survey finds that almost half U.S. consumers surveyed said high gasoline prices have affected their spending more than rising food costs, the flagging economy or the national mortgage and lending crisis.
Super-low Valley home sales: Only 6,271 transactions were made for all of 2007, which is the lowest level in more than two decades. In December, the median price in the SFV dipped to $557,000. (Daily News)
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covers the latest news about the writers strike, the departure of another Fortune 500 company, and the SEC inquiry into an L.A. investor's stock sales.