Thursday morning headlines

Stocks keep gaining: So-so economic news and some better-than-expected earnings results. We'll see if there's any fallout from Chrysler's Chapter 11 filing. In early trading, the Dow was up over 100 points.

Unraveling the Chrysler mess: It might not be easy. Many of the holdout lenders who bought portions of Chrysler's $6.9 billion of bank debt at a discount are likely to argue that they have first dibs on the assets that were pledged for those loans. From DealBook:

They argue that they would see greater recovery in a liquidation of the car giant, which they contend would yield about 65 cents on the dollar. The most recent plan proposed Wednesday by the Treasury Department and Chrysler's four main bank lenders -- JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs -- would have given the creditors about 33 cents on the dollar. Because they hold "first lien" debt, these creditors are at the front of the line to be repaid, and they have the first claim on the plants, equipment and brands that served as collateral to loans tied to Chrysler's 2007 sale to Cerberus Capital Management.

Reassuring words on flu: Good piece leading today's LAT that has scientists toning down the hysteria. They say that the virus - at least in its current form - isn't as fatal as the strains from previous pandemics. This could, in fact, be even milder than a run-of-the-mill flu outbreak. At last, a little context in a story that has gone completely out of control.

"Let's not lose track of the fact that the normal seasonal influenza is a huge public health problem that kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone and hundreds of thousands around the world," said Dr. Christopher Olsen, a molecular virologist who studies swine flu at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison.


"This virus doesn't have anywhere near the capacity to kill like the 1918 virus," which claimed an estimated 50 million victims worldwide, said Richard Webby, a leading influenza virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Travel update: Lots of empty seats on planes flying from the U.S. to Mexico. AP says only five travelers had reserved any of the 157 available seats on one flight from Houston to Cancun, Meanwhile, cruise lines are re-jiggering their itineraries in order to bypass Mexican ports. (LAT)

Judge blocks port program: A preliminary injunction goes far enough to bar elements of the clean air plan that the trucking industry finds most onerous, but stops short of gutting the program. Still to be decided is what sort of say the ports can have in determining which trucking companies and independent owner operators get to operate in the harbor. (Cunningham Report)

Virgin comes to OC: Richard Branson's Virgin America begins flying from John Wayne Airport to SF, with fares as low as $49 one way. Southwest is about to begin service from OC to SF, with $44 one-way fares. (LAT)

Hedge funds shut down: The SEC accuses a Bev Hills money manager of scamming investors out of at least $38 million. Bradley L. Ruderman allegedly claimed returns as high as 60 percent through positions in Apple, Microsoft and Wal-Mart. (LAT)

Disney joining Hulu: Under an agreement just announced, the Mouse House becomes an equity partner in the video service, along with NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners. That means shows like "Lost," "Desperate Housewives" and "Ugly Betty" will be available on the Hulu site. (All Things Digital)

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*
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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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