Market pause: Dow is down slightly in early trading, though some of the losses have been pared after a positive report on pending home sales.
Not much mortgage help: Less than 10 percent of eligible borrowers have received loan modifications under the Obama administration's housing program. Numbers range quite a bit - JP Morgan Chase is at 20 percent while some loan services have yet to modify a single loan under the program.
Big jump in gas prices: An average gallon in the L.A. rose 8½ cents, to $2.925, according to the government's latest report. There's new concern that higher fuel costs could damper a recovery. From the LAT:
The increase has already reduced the pace of the recovery," said Paul Bingham, an economist and director of world trade and transportation markets for the business forecasting firm IHS Global Insight. "Higher energy prices chew into the earnings of companies that have begun to make a little more money and seriously hurts those companies that are still in contraction," Bingham said. "For households, it diverts consumer spending from everything else they might be buying."Discouraging stat: Almost 5 unemployed workers in L.A. for every job advertised online in June, which is actually a bit better than the state (almost 6 for every job). (OC Register)
Lining up for Halloween work: It's only temporary and only pays minimum wage, but 300 people lined up to audition for work portraying monsters at Knott's Berry Farm's annual Halloween Haunt. From the LAT:
Next week, Knott's will open auditions to the public for an additional 900 or so jobs at the park's Halloween mazes. Because of California's double-digit unemployment rates, park officials are preparing to be inundated with monster applicants. "We are anticipating a really big turnout on Monday," said Knott's spokeswoman Jennifer Blazey, adding that every park job fair this year has drawn twice as many applicants as expected. She said she wouldn't be surprised to see lawyers, engineers and accountants applying for the jobs.
Macy's CEO on recovery: Terry Lundgren tells the WSJ "that we've bottomed out and are bumping along the bottom. It's not good news but it's not getting worse, I think, for us and for other retailers."
I think it's all part of the human psyche. There is a certain release valve associated with shopping and having someone take care of you for a change. There's something to that hunt for a special jacket. That psychology may be hard to explain, but I do think that will return over time.
Big renovation for Hotel Bel-Air: They'll be closing the place for two years, beginning at the end of September. Guests are being given a letter as they check in. From The Wrap:
Due to the scope of a "major refurbishment," said the letter, "the decision has been made to close the hotel on September 30, 2009 so we do not inconvenience any of our guests while the renovation is taking place." The letter said the hotel, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei and managed by the Dorchester Group, would be completed toward the middle of 2011. The renovation will include an updating of all 91 rooms, and the construction of a vast new spa and 12 new villas on the property.
Fighting for Century Plaza: Preservationists are hoping for a big turnout at City Hall today when Councilman Paul Koretz presents a motion to preserve the historic hotel. The hotel's owner wants to demolish the 19-story building and replace it with two 49-story buildings containing residences, offices and a hotel.
Lowest in Long Beach: The city-owned airport offered the cheapest fares of the nation's top 100 facilities, according to a government study. Average fare was $207 compared with $315 nationwide. From the Press-Telegram:
Oakland ($227) and Burbank ($231) ranked right behind LGB. Rounding out the top 5 were Dallas Love ($231) and Las Vegas ($235). The most expensive airports were in smaller markets: Huntsville, Ala. ($505), Cincinnati ($446), Grand Rapids, Mich. ($418), Savannah, Ga. ($405), and Des Moines, Iowa ($403).
Changes at LAT: More adjustments as paper keeps looking at partnerships with other publications. Scott McKibben, formerly executive vice president and chief revenue officer, becomes executive vice president of strategic partnerships. (LAT)
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian looks at how the movie business is changing and why some entertainment companies are doing better than others. Also on podcast and on kpcc.org.