Stocks up early: Overseas markets rebounded and the Fed is likely to cut interest rates again. But after being up more than 200 points, the Dow is pulling back (consumer confidence plunging to its lowest level ever probably didn’t help).
Home prices fall - again: L.A. saw a 1.8 percent drop in August from the previous month, according to the widely followed Case-Shiller index. The one-year drop was 26.7 percent. As usual, Vegas, Phoenix and Miami fared a little worse than L.A. Cities holding up the best were Dallas, Charlotte, N.C. and Boston. (CNNMoney.com)
More banks want help: Pasadena's East West Bancorp has applied for Treasury funds, and Cathay Bancorp is likely to seek capital as well. Both banks are in relatively good shape, but what about the laggards? From the LAT:
"Come Nov. 14, the big question will be, 'What about the banks that didn't get any capital?' " said Joseph Morford, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco. That could include such institutions as Downey Financial Corp. of Newport Beach, Vineyard National Bancorp of Corona and Hanmi Financial Corp. of Los Angeles, which are operating under regulatory sanctions while trying to raise capital from nongovernment sources.
Falling like a rock: L.A.'s average price of regular dropped 14 cents a gallon in the past week, to $3.20, according to the government's latest survey (the national average is $2.65). With oil trading in the $60-$65 range, analysts expect further drops in pump prices - another symptom of a global slowdown. (EIA)
Fresh & Easy goes union?: When the American spinoff of British-based Tesco began opening stores last year, executives said workers would be free to decide whether they wanted union representation. But - surprise! - the company now says it doubts the union's claim that a majority of the employees at its Huntington Beach store had signed union cards. F&E will only recognize "government-supervised secret-ballot elections." (LAT)
Ralphs managers plead not guilty: A 23-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles accuses the defendants of conspiring to rehire locked-out workers using fake Social Security numbers and identification during the strike. A trial date of Dec. 23 has been set for the managers and an executive at parent Kroger. (AP)
Lawyers sentenced: Steven Schulman, 57, and David Bershad, 68, were players in a lucrative kickback scheme that raked in nearly $240 million for the firm Milberg Weiss. They were each sentenced to six months in federal prison. Schulman said he wanted to be a symbol for young aspiring lawyers who might be corrupted as they try to advance their careers. (AP)
DineEquity stock still higher: The Glendale company formerly known as IHOP is up another 1 percent this morning – presumably on progress it's made in selling underperforming restaurants and reducing merger-related debt from last year's buyout of Applebee's. Also, third quarter results were better than expected (though the company did lose $16.4 million). From Forbes.com:
The owner of the International House of Pancakes chain is in the midst of a campaign to sell company-owned restaurants to franchisees, a process called refranchising. Elliott noted that the credit crisis "increases the challenges" of refranchising the Applebee's locations, but that despite the risks, DineEquity is a "substantial free cash flow generator." Sit-down restaurant chains like IHOP and Applebee's have been particularly hard-hit by the economic downturn, as consumers have slashed discretionary spending.
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian looks at the telltale signs of a recession and the effort by local banks to get government cash infusions. Also at kpcc.org and on podcast.