Stocks edge lower: The pretty bad unemployment news is having only a limited impact (the numbers came in as expected). In early trading, the Dow is down 50 points.
More tumult over tanker deal: Defense Secretary Robert Gates hates the idea being floated on Capitol Hill that would have Boeing and Northrop split the $35 billion contract to build refueling tankers. Having two separate production lines, says Gates, would wind up costing billions of additional dollars. From the NYT:
But Representative John P. Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who is chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, and Representative Neil Abercrombie, Democrat of Hawaii who heads another panel that oversees Air Force programs, say that may be the only practical way to break the impasse. Over time, they say, the Air Force could shift a greater share of the business to whichever company provided the best deal. And they say that even though the plan would cost more in the short run, the continuing competition -- and the ability to increase production rates and replace the aging tanker fleet more quickly -- could eventually save billions in purchasing and maintenance costs that the Pentagon has not fully considered.
Northrop settles case: The L.A.-based defense contractor agrees to pay $325 million to settle charges that it failed to properly test parts for satellites that were made by its TRW unit from 1992 to 2002. At the same time, DOJ settles a lawsuit filed by Northrop over the government's decision to terminate a contract. The $325 million settlement offset the amount Northrop was required to pay in the satellite claim. (Reuters)
Countrywide pays out $3.7 million: The money,
part of a settlement with the state of New Jersey, will establish a fund for homeowners impacted by the subprime mess. The state estimates that 8,200 residents will benefit from the agreement. (AP)
Layoffs at 21st Century: The auto insurance unit of AIG will let go about 500 workers, or 7 percent its workforce. As part of the cuts, the Long Beach office and three other locations will close. The insurer has been hit by a sales decline. (LAT)
MediaNews forgoes debt payment: Lenders led by Bank of America agreed to let the newspaper company try to reorganize its capital structure without being burdened by a March 31 payment. MediaNews, which owns the Daily News and other Socal papers, worked out a similar agreement with Hearst, which owns a big stake in the publisher's equity and a majority position in its bonds. (DealBook)
Pasadena convention center unveiled: The $150-million facility replaces a 1970s-era subterranean center and boasts a 25,000-square-foot ballroom and 80,000 square feet of exhibit space. It's part of a major facelift in the Civic Center area. From the LAT:
The city embarked on a major face-lift for the area aimed in part at raising its stature. The old Plaza Pasadena mall was knocked down and, in 2001, replaced with the Paseo Colorado, an outdoor shopping center and urban village that restored the sightlines between landmarks. City Hall underwent a $117-million seismic retrofit and historic restoration, which was finished almost two years ago.
When the revitalization began, some wondered whether the city could pull it all together -- and whether it would result in overdevelopment. The jury is still out on the second question. The new civic center has helped pave the way for a crop of high-end apartments and condos along the Colorado Boulevard corridor, bringing a new spark to the area but also more traffic and higher building density.
Another increase in gas prices: An average gallon of regular in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $2.242, up 6.7 cents from last week, according to the Auto Club's latest survey. Prices tend to increase in the spring.