Stocks open higher: Ending a kind of hurry-up-and-wait week. Dow is hovering in the 8400 to 8500 range.
GDP revised upward: A little bit. First-quarter growth contracted at an annual rate of 5.7 percent instead of the initial estimate of a 6.1 percent. From the NYT:
If the first three months were slightly less awful than first estimated, they still marked a painful contraction in the economy. Unemployment rose sharply, putting millions out of work, businesses continued to slash their costs and reduce their investments, and housing prices tumbled lower. But many economists suggested the worst days of the recession were fading.
Veeeery slow recovery: OC-based bond expert Bill Gross is talking about 1 percent to 2 percent annual growth over the next few years - and stubbornly high unemployment. In that climate, he thinks high-quality corporate bonds that yield 6 to 8 percent are the way to go. (Reuters)
GM prepares for bankruptcy: Looks like Monday's the day. By altering the terms of the restructuring and offering bondholders a sweetened deal, the Obama folks want this thing to play out in as short a time frame as possible - say, 60 to 90 days. From the WSJ:
The top consideration for GM and its advisers has been to avoid a repeat of the Chrysler LLC bankruptcy announcement, when company executives were absent and Mr. Obama reprimanded hedge funds for trying to profit on Chrysler's downfall. "They don't want it to come across that way this time," said one person working on the plan. "That eviscerated the entire management team" and enraged many players in the investment community. President Barack Obama instead is expected to announce the government's plans for GM in a Monday speech that will echo many of the notes he tried to strike in his last two talks on the car industry: that the government plunged into the task reluctantly, but with confidence that it can rebuild GM and Chrysler and salvage at least some of the taxpayer investments.
Madoff victims want relief: State Senate hearing last night included testimony from local investors who want to get back the state taxes they paid on supposed income that was never received. A state law would have to be changed to make that happen. (LAT)
TV Guide stake is sold: Lions Gate is unloading its 49 percent share of TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com to L.A.-based One Equity Partners for $123 million. Earlier this year, Lions Gate outbid One Equity for the assets. Lions Gate is trying to fend off Carl Icahn, who already has a 14.5 percent stake in the company (and who had been critical of the decision to buy TV Guide). (Business Week)
Blue Shield wins ruling: A Superior Court judge says that the health insurer acted properly in canceling the policy of a former Cypress resident after he was seriously injured in a car accident. Plaintiffs in the case stipulated they had lied about his preexisting conditions to obtain coverage. From the LAT:
Blue Shield sought the court ruling after the Haileys stipulated that they "willfully misrepresented and willfully omitted material information" on their application for coverage. The Haileys also stipulated that the application was "clear and unambiguous" and that Blue Shield's "rescission investigation procedures were reasonable." In all, the couple made 11 stipulations that represent an abrupt reversal in the position that they had maintained since Blue Shield rescinded their coverage after a 2001 car accident that led to many medical bills.
Gas update: The increases keep coming. An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $2.663, up nine cents from last week. (Auto Club)
Pricey real estate: Talent manager Sandy Gallin is asking $32 million for his 12,000-square-foot Bel-Air home. Gallin bought the property two years ago for about $8 million from the estate of actress Jane Wyatt and did a major upgrade. (WSJ)