Wednesday morning headlines

Stocks higher: The upward bias continues, with the Dow up about 175 points in early trading. Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods showed an unexpected increase in February.

California "running on fumes": That's how UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg begins his state outlook, part of the Anderson Forecast's quarterly report. He sees unemployment growing to a high of 11.9 percent in the second quarter and it won't get out of double digits until 2012. Also, he doesn't see taxable sales bouncing back until 2011.

Fisker signs up 32 dealerships: That's the OC-based automaker specializing in plug-in hybrids. With production set to begin later this year, the company is establishing a distribution network. Eight if the dealerships are in California (including Pasadena and Santa Monica). From the LAT:

The announcement is the latest step in the company's bid to be the first carmaker to bring plug-in hybrid technology to market. Several large automakers, including General Motors Corp., are also working on plug-in hybrid drivetrains but aren't set to deliver them for at least 18 months. At the same time, a growing number of start-ups working on similar technology have eschewed dealerships. For example, San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla Motors, maker of an all-electric roadster, sells directly to consumers and owns its two stores.

Bonds score: California boosted the size of its sale of infrastructure bonds to $6.54 billion from a planned $4 billion. The longest-term bond, maturing in 2038, will pay investors an annualized tax-free yield of 6.1 percent. (LAT).

CB Richard Ellis gets break: The commercial real estate giant has renegotiated its credit agreement with lenders. Under the new arrangement, the company can take a hit in revenue without loan violations kicking in. CB Richard, like other real estate companies, has been struggling in the dismal market. (LAT)

Homeowners balk at Century City plan: A coalition of community groups is objecting to Westfield's plans to enlarge its shopping center and build a 39-story tower. An appeal of the Planning Commission's approval is set for May 5, with the City Council to hear the matter on May 12. (LAT)

Dov Charney buying stock: The American Apparel CEO purchased 855,000 shares at an average per-share price of $3.12, including 460,000 shares on margin. Charney might have been trying to steady the ship after an 11th hour refinancing. From the WSJ:

The capital injection came at a steep cost. In addition to an interest rate of 15%, American Apparel gave Lion Capital warrants to purchase 18% of the company for $2 a share. "They've given away a chunk of the company at a very cheap price," said Ben Silverman, director of research at, a site that tracks and rates activity by corporate insiders. "But the debt issues were obviously weighing on the stock." While it is a positive to see Mr. Charney buying for the first time, Mr. Silverman said, he doesn't discount the possibility that Mr. Charney may be trying to send a signal to investors, rather than buying the stock on its own merits.

SABEW winners: Several locals get recognized by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers: John Gittelsohn, Jon Lansner, Mary Ann Milbourn, Jeff Collins, and Ronald Campbell of the OC Register, Richard Clough of the Business Journal, and Mike Hiltzik, Lisa Girion, and Daniel Costello of the LAT. Here's the press release.

More by Mark Lacter:
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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
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