Friday morning headlines

Downish market: Investors seem spooked by a new report that shows consumers saving rather than spending. Dow is down about 50 points.

KB loses more money: The L.A.-based homebuilder reported a second-quarter loss of $78.4 million (analysts had expected a smaller number), but new home orders jumped 59 percent. CEO Jeffrey Mezger remained cautious about any pickup. (AP)

Qantas drops order: The Australian air carrier will scrap or defer orders for 30 of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, though Qantas is still the largest customer of the long-range aircraft. (BTW, Qantas has a huge presence at LAX.) From the NYT:

The global economic turmoil has taken a heavy toll on passenger and cargo traffic, with the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association showing passenger numbers in May were 9.3 percent below numbers from a year earlier, and freight demand was down 17.4 percent. Falling volumes, combined with soaring oil prices last year, forced airlines around the world to reduce staff and flights, park planes and shelve investment plans, including aircraft orders.

Jackson's finances: The King of Pop was still making around $19 million a year at the time of his death, according to the WSJ. Of that, $12 million came from album sales and $7 million was from his stake in Sony/ATV, the owner of music copyrights. But that was far from enough to handle debt loads that ran into the hundreds of millions.

It is unclear what will happen to Mr. Jackson's tangled finances as his estate is unwound. At one point, according to people familiar with his plans, he had intended to divide his estate among his three children and his mother. It is unclear if that arrangement was subsequently amended. The stake in Sony/ATV is held in a trust that was designed to protect the singer from creditors. The degree to which Mr. Jackson's assets still exceed his towering liabilities, if at all, could take months to determine, according to people familiar with the situation.

AEG's losses: With Jackson's death, the L.A.-based concert promoter will have to refund the $85 million worth of tickets that were sold. All told, the company was expected to make about $115 million -- not including plans for a global three-year tour that could have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. From the LAT:

"They are taking a big hit," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert-tracking publication Pollstar. Among the company's priorities, he said, will be trying to find other acts to fill the O2, a 20,000-seat arena that does not rely on resident sports teams to fill its seats. Jackson's concerts were scheduled to run through March. "They will be able to re-book some of those shows. But those in July, the building will probably be dark. You have an empty building, and that's going to have an impact on their London operations, certainly," Bongiovanni said.

State budget update: The Assembly approved $5 billion in revisions that was intended to prevent issuance of IOUs next week, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to veto it. The package would cut billions from education, push some education costs into the future and defer other state expenses. From the LAT:

As lawmakers debated, the controller and the state treasurer issued a joint statement warning that IOUs -- if made necessary by California's cash crunch and the continuing lack of a balanced budget -- would cause "substantial, long term damage" to the state's standing on Wall Street. Assembly GOP leader Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo said that approving Thursday's budget bills was "the responsible and prudent thing to do." But Schwarzenegger said the $5 billion in budget revisions, which could avert IOUs for much of July, "amounts to nothing more than a piecemeal proposal."

Danny Pang's haul: Federal regulators say the California financier pulled out at least $83 million in allegedly inflated fees, loans and salary from his investment firm before it was seized in April. Potential losses by investors could range from $287 million to $654 million. (WSJ)

Break in gas hikes: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $3.014 per gallon, which is nine-tenths of a cent less than last week, according to the Auto Club's weekly survey. Meanwhile, oil prices has slipped below $70 a barrel.

Makeover for Fashion Island: The ritzy Newport Beach shopping center that overlooks the Pacific is getting a $100 million overhaul. Plans call for a Nordstrom department store, a Dean & DeLuca gourmet grocery, and a bunch of new fountains. (LAT)

Bar code birthday: It was first used to read the price on a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum (67 cents) on the morning of June 26, 1974. From the NYT:

Today, bar codes are scanned more than 10 billion times a day around the world. And after 35 years, they are both the mundane minutiae of modern life and cultural icons of cold efficiency, identification and control. "It was cheap and it was needed," said George J. Laurer, who was already a veteran engineer at I.B.M. in 1970 when he was asked to lead a team assigned to devise a checkout system for grocery stores. "And it is reliable. Those three things probably contributed more than anything else."

Conan slips to No. 2: He's losing a lot of the older Jay Leno crowd, but he's gaining viewers between 18 and 49. All told, "Tonight Show" ratings are behind Letterman ratings for the first time in more than three years. (WSJ)

C-17s get reprieve: The military cargo plane keeps going and going - at least until 2011. President Obama signed into law a $106 billion spending bill that includes $2.17 billion for eight of the large military transport aircraft. The Boeing program employs 5,000 workers in Long Beach. (Press-Telegram)

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?
Recent stories:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
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'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Bobcat crossing
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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
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