Friday morning headlines

Market is closed: No U.S. stocks trading today in observance of Good Friday.

Is "recovery" overblown?: A few too many "worst is over" headlines for the skeptics who worry about more trouble ahead, especially in the nonfinancial sector. "I think this is all setting us up for a new low," JP Morgan equity strategist Thomas J. Lee told the NYT.

One of the biggest worries facing economists is what would happen if unemployment rose beyond expectations and unleashed another wave of spending contractions and lower corporate profits. Even as major banks like Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America regain some profitability after devastating losses -- buoyed in part by government efforts to breathe new life into the housing market -- experts warn that companies reflecting other sectors of the economy will soon suffer a wave of sharper declines in earnings.

On the other hand...: Tom Petruno at Money & Co. is hedging his bets, pointing out that this is the biggest rally since the bear market began 18 months ago.

Bespoke Investment Group analysts Justin Walters and Paul Hickey, who pore over market historical data for a living, say the action Thursday helped cement the view that "the current uptrend is the real deal." "Just as investors played the prior downtrend by selling on big up days, investors now are playing the new uptrend by buying on pullbacks," Walters and Hickey said in a report. Yet they, too, are nervous about the latest run-up. In technical parlance, the market is "overbought," they say, adding: "We remain comfortable with the longer-term implications of this rally, but we would still exercise extreme caution at current levels and wouldn't recommend getting long until we once again pull back from overbought levels."

Outcry over LAT ad: The Times has its own story about the front-page NBC ad, which is understandably making all kinds of waves among readers, J-school professors and the paper's own news staff. What we still don't know is whether this was an act of desperation from a publisher looking for a few extra bucks or a broader strategy to blow up the traditional wall between advertising and editorial.

Publisher Eddy Hartenstein said he decided to run the NBC ad despite newsroom objections because he was trying to ensure that The Times could continue to operate. "Because of the times that we're in, we have to look at all sorts of different -- and some would say innovative -- new solutions for our advertising clients," he said.

Colony breaks off talks: The L.A.-based investment firm will not be bailing out MGM Mirage after all. The decision means that the troubled casino operator must find other ways to pay off more than $13 billion in debt and to complete the construction of its CityCenter development in Vegas. (DealBook)

Big jump in gas prices: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $2.330, according to the Auto Club, which is almost nine cents higher than last week.

Tax scofflaws: Dionne Warwick, Burt Reynolds and Sinbad are among the 250 Californians with the largest delinquent income tax bills. All told, they owe $143 million in back taxes. From the LAT:

Also continuing on the list is Christopher Hammond, a developer and political fundraiser who successfully built low- income housing in Los Angeles. But Hammond ran into financial and legal problems on a large, city-subsidized shopping center project near Baldwin Hills. Two years ago, when the list showed him owing $231,000, Hammond told The Times that he had made $90,000 in payments and arranged to be taken off the list. Now he owes $504,000, according to the state. Hammond could not be reached for comment.

Yelp changes policy: Starting next week, small business owners will be able to respond to consumer reviews on the site. Yelp has been perceived as having an anti-business bias, even though it takes business ads. From the NYT:

As Yelp has become more important in major American cities, its relationship with small businesses has become more contentious. Particularly in San Francisco, where the company started in 2004, Yelp has angered some small businesses because it has not allowed them to respond to reviews, as TripAdvisor and other review sites do.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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