Choppy market: Oil prices are up this morning to $71 a barrel, which led to an early opening, but the Dow has since pulled back.
Home Depot raises forecast: The home improvement retailer, often considered an economic bellwether, says its full-year earnings may come in better than expected. Lowe's Cos. has also raised its full-year outlook. (AP)
Fiat-Chrysler deal completed: The Italian automaker takes over as the troubled automaker emerges from its quickie bankruptcy. (NYT)
SAG deal ratified: At last it's over. Members of the Screen Actors Guild vote overwhelmingly to approve a new two-year contract. From Variety:
Turnout among the 110,000 eligible members was a higher-than-normal 35%. And the vote also represented a stinging rebuke to SAG president Alan Rosenberg and his allies who have insisted on holding out for a better deal - and going on strike if the congloms failed to comply. Rosenberg, who announced Tuesday before the vote that he's seeking a third term, admitted he was surprised by the level of support for the deal. "It may be due to fatigue, fear and the economy," Rosenberg said. "This contract will have a devastating impact."
Huge price hit in Antelope Valley: Median home prices have fallen below the levels of April 1989 in 14 Socal ZIP codes, mainly desert communities in the Antelope Valley and Inland Empire. Prices elsewhere have not fallen nearly as far. From the LAT:
The April median price in Beatrice's Lancaster ZIP Code of 93535, for example, was $87,000. That's down 74% from a $334,500 peak price in 2007. Even worse was the 92410 ZIP Code in the city of San Bernardino, which covers several older neighborhoods. Its $61,000 April median represents an 84% drop from the peak of $370,000 in 2007. Prices also tumbled below 1989 levels in neighborhoods in Palmdale, Hemet, Barstow, Desert Hot Springs, Victorville, Highland, Santa Ana and Oxnard, according to DataQuick.
Housing slump over?: He doesn't have hard and fast numbers, but BW's Chris Palmeri believes that the market is coming back in a big way. Some of his evidence:
1)A friend of mine in Los Angeles just lost out on a house. She made a $1.5 million, all-cash offer on a Hollywood Hills home. The seller----a flipper---had to lower his price by $200,000, but he still got multiple offers. He interviewed my friend on Sunday. He asked her questions. He wanted to know if she had any reservations about the house or the neighborhood. She later got a text message saying he'd chosen another buyer.
2)I was out in my favorite real estate stomping ground Ontario, California on Sunday. I looked at twenty bank-owned homes. All but a couple--the real pig sties--were under contract, in escrow, or had just sold. The one I liked the best had sixteen offers, some significantly over the asking price. By significant I mean a $94,000 asking price, a $120,000 offer.
Dana Point resort nears foreclosure: The companies that own the St. Regis Monarch Beach are in default on a $70-million loan and unless a last-minute deal is worked out with creditors the place will be put on the block next month. The St. Regis has been hit by a steep drop in bookings, the LAT reports.
Boston Globe up for sale: The NYT Co. is seeking bids for the paper, whose largest union turned down a package of pay and benefit cuts. The sale appears unrelated to this week's guild vote. Lots of luck - the paper lost $50 million last year. (Boston Globe)
Macerich needs cash: The Santa Monica-based mall operator wants to raise at least $350 million in the next two or three months by selling stakes in some of its properties. The strategy hinges on getting higher prices for the malls than is suggested by the stock price. From the WSJ:
Macerich's stock, which closed at $20.53 Tuesday in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange, down 1%, has declined about 70% in the past year because of investors' concerns about Macerich's ability to refinance chunks of its $7.9 billion debt load as they come due. Thus, the stock implies a higher cap rate -- and, by extension, a lower price -- for Macerich's assets than the REIT might actually get by selling stakes in various assets.
More Ponzi charges: The SEC alleges that two California men promised Korean American investors annual returns of as much as 36 percent in foreign-currency trading. (LAT)