Monday morning headlines

Up-and-down stocks: Investors are biding time until the first earnings results start rolling in later today. At last check, the Dow was down a few points.

About those earnings: They'll certainly be way higher than a year ago, but that's not saying much. Analysts will be watching tech and telecom in particular. From the WSJ:

If there is a question mark, it is the battered financial sector. Investors are still waiting to see if there is any light in the end of the tunnel for writes-offs and reserves against bad loans. That is especially true for struggling regional banks. In addition, a bigger-than-usual drop-off in stock and bond trading volume at the end of 2009 has prompted some analysts to trim earnings forecasts for Wall Street banks. But expectations are generally positive.

Higher home prices: The December median for L.A. County was $348,000, up from $339,000 the previous month and $345,000 from a year earlier, according to HomeData. This is the first report I've seen in months where year-over-year prices were higher. Sales, though, were down 7 percent from December 2009. (Business Journal)

Bills will be paid: Three state officials took the unusual step this morning of announcing that California will continue to meet its obligations in May and June. "To execute its normal cash flow borrowing this summer, the state will need not only budget solutions, but cash solutions as well," said the statement by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Controller John Chiang and Finance Director Ana Matosantos.

Oil shoots up: Strong demand from China has the price of crude nearing the $84-a-barrel mark. Expect gas prices to keep edging higher. (AP)

Conan ready to bolt?: NY Post quotes a source as saying that he "would be happier somewhere else," but the story doesn't say he's made any decision. The Post just happens to be owned by News Corp., which also owns Fox. Other reports say that he's still mulling his options.

Money-losing Olympics: Sharp increases in licensing fees and the economic slump will result in NBC's first loss for an Olympics package. (NYT)

Old media prevails: For all the different ways of getting access to the news, the vast majority of original reporting still comes from newspapers, according to a study. From the NYT:

Looking at six major story lines that developed over one week last July, 83 percent of the reports in local news media "were essentially repetitive, conveying no new information," said the study, by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an arm of the Pew Research Center.

More business for Boeing?: India's Air Force is interesting in buying 10 C-17s. If a deal is cut, it could keep the cargo plane's Long Beach plant in operation through mid-2013. (Press-Telegram)

Galpin still tops: For the 20th consecutive year, the Van Nuys dealership sold the most cars of any Ford dealer in the world, though not without lots of discounting. (Business Journal)

More by Mark Lacter:
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Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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