Dow opens higher: One reason could be an index that shows manufacturing declining last month at the slowest pace in a year. After an hour the Dow is up over 100 points.
Clunkers keep coming: Future of the government program is in doubt because the Senate has begun waffling about an extension. Meantime, auto dealers reported brisk business over the weekend. (LAT)
Sluggish box office: After a strong summer start, ticket sales have fallen for four consecutive weeks compared with a year earlier. All told, attendance is down 4.36 percent. From the WSJ:
Box-office analysts say that the recent declines owe in part to tough comparisons with record-breaking hits from last summer, such as "The Dark Knight," "Indiana Jones," "Iron Man," and "Wall-E." Recent blockbusters such as "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" have struggled to make up the difference, despite strong performances.
High-end homes getting stuck: Washington has focused mostly on improving the low-end housing market. Folks on the other end are still stuck. From the WSJ:
Policymakers have helped spur sales of lower-priced homes by offering first-time buyers a federal tax credit of as much as $8,000, by driving mortgage rates to near 50-year lows and by expanding the mission of the Federal Housing Administration, which will guarantee mortgages for consumers buying homes with down payments as low as 3.5%. Sales at the lower end are also helped by the large number of foreclosed homes that banks have dumped at fire-sale prices, which has pulled down values of neighboring houses and sparked bargain hunting.
Governor rolling back pensions?: California has at least $63 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, so the idea is coming up, despite the state's strong public employee unions. From AP:
The potential for reduced retirement benefits adds to concern that California will not be able to attract qualified employees, said Christopher Voight, executive director for the California Association of Professional Scientists. For example, he said, the state needs microbiologists to test for swine flu, but has a hard time keeping them because they tend to leave for better pay at private labs. Schwarzenegger wants to start by undoing a retirement package passed by California lawmakers in 1999 and signed by then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.
Nissan's electric car: It's called the Leaf and will be going on the market in late 2010. Production will start with about 200,000 units and prices should be within the range of a comparable gasoline-engine car. (Reuters)
Feds drop clean trucks fight: The Federal Maritime Commission decided to pull back its objections to the Clean Truck Program at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach after some modifications (plus the slowdown in trade). A lawsuit by the American Trucking Association lawsuit is still pending. From the Business Journal:
The Clean Trucks Program banned trucks built before 1989, the first year of diesel pollution control, and will bar any truck that doesn't meet 2007 emission standards by 2012. It also required truckers to receive a concession in order to service the ports; the port of Los Angeles further mandated that all drivers work as employees of trucking companies.