Market edges higher: Mixed housing news, plus some profit taking after yesterday's run-up.
Sluggish holiday expected: The Auto Club expects a 2.3 percent drop in the number of Southern Californians who will travel this Memorial Day weekend. Not helping any are gasoline prices, which have been rising in recent weeks. The average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $2.519, up about nine cents from last week. (LAT, EIA)
Speaking of vacations...: More than a third of American workers aren't planning to take off this year, according to a CareerBuilder survey, either because they can't afford it or because they're worried about losing their jobs. (Washington Business Journal)
Council approves budget deal: The package worked out late last night calls for 1,200 layoffs and 26 furlough days for city employees. The deal also restricts the hiring of new police officers to those who replace officers who retire or quit. (Daily News)
Chrysler dealers fight back: A group of 300 dealers plan to file a motion in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court objecting to the termination of their franchise agreements. Could be a tough haul - bankruptcy laws give the courts wide latitude for tearing up existing contracts like dealer licenses. (WSJ)
Layoffs at William Morris: More than 100 agents and other staff members will be let go as a result of the agency's merger with Endeavor. From Variety:
It's understood WMA and Endeavor execs have been poring over staff lists since the merger was approved by both agencies' boards on April 27. It's believed the end goal is to whittle WMA's roughly 800 employees and Endeavor's roughly 275 employees down to under 1,000 total staffers for the combined entity. As numerous as Monday's layoffs were, there had been early speculation that the merger could result is as many as 200 or more WMA and Endeavor staffers facing pinkslips.
American Apparel reports loss: So much attention was focused on the $5 million settlement with Woody Allen that the company's $9 million loss got short shrift. From the LAT:
Matthew Wiger, an analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., blamed part of the retailer's "ugly quarter" on its legal saga with Allen as well as financial troubles that forced the company to negotiate a three-month extension on its debt before receiving an $80-million infusion from a British investment firm in March. "As long as Dov has been focused on financing and focused on the Woody Allen thing, those are distractions from being able to manage the business," Wiger said. "American Apparel doesn't exist without Dov Charney. The more he's pulled away from the business, the more his hand is pulled away from the stores, it hurts."
Hollywood hard times: Folks still want to be seen and to look good, but heavy-duty spending is being cut back. (I'm a little dubious of this sort of frugality; researchers are starting to describe it as "vicarious anxiety.") From the NYT:
Robertson Boulevard, home to the celebrated Ivy restaurant, has 12 storefronts empty or emptying on just a five-block stretch. On Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, about 30 boutiques are either closed, about to close or vacant, according to the merchants' association. "The trendonistas still flock to Barneys, but it's just to eat lunch and buy a lipstick," said Leslie Wright, a fashion-forward executive at Bonhams & Butterfields, the art auctioneer. "That way," she continued, "they can still drop into conversation that they spent all afternoon someplace chic."
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covers the Business Journal list of richest Angelenos and whether there are any signs that consumers are beginning to spend. Also on kpcc.org and on podcast.