Wall Street watching: Big news day - State of the Union, Fed interest rate decision, Apple announcement, Bernanke confirmation rumbles. Dow is down around 40 points in early trading.
Apple day: Later this morning we'll finally find out what Steve Jobs has had up his sleeve all these months. Two key specs to keep an eye on: Price and battery life. (CNET)
Toyota shutdown: A safety research firm has identified 2,274 incidents of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles causing 275 crashes and at least 18 fatalities since 1999 (WSJ). Unintended acceleration problems are what led to the decision to halt sales. From the LAT:
Toyota's 1,200 U.S. dealers were notified of the action, known in the industry as a stop sale, by e-mail Tuesday afternoon. They were asked to immediately cease selling new models of the affected vehicles and to refrain from selling certain used versions of the same models. "This is the mother of all stop sales, it appears," said Fritz Hitchcock, who owns Toyota dealerships in Santa Barbara, Northridge and the City of Industry. Hitchcock said the action could cut up to 75% of new vehicle sales at his lots. "I'd say this was the perfect storm."
Malone moving in: Now that the Justice Department has signed off on the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster (with conditions), super-investor John Malone is launching a tender offer for up to 34.5 million shares of the company. That would bring his stake to 34.9 percent. From the NY Post:
Malone isn't exactly known as a passive investor, and his offer positions Liberty to have considerable sway over the new company's direction. If shareholders are willing to sell at Malone's price, Liberty would have two board seats and be able to restrict [CEO Michael]Rapino's ability to maneuver without its permission.
Foreclosure backlog: More than 10,000 auction notices in OC raise concerns about another wave of foreclosures - and with it more trouble for the economy. From the OC Register:
Sean O'Toole, head of ForeclosureRadar, said although foreclosure filings overall decreased at the end of 2009, the backlog of delinquent loans keeps growing. He said only a portion of borrowers are getting loan modifications enabling them to avoid foreclosure. "It is clear that political pressure on lenders to delay foreclosure is working," O'Toole said.
Ameriquest settles suits: The OC subprimer has pledged $22 million to repay aggrieved borrowers and their lawyers -- a fraction of its payments in previous suits before it shut down. From the LAT:
The agreement potentially affects 712,000 borrowers from what once was the nation's largest subprime lender, based in Orange County. Many of the loans were from Argent Mortgage Co., an arm that funded borrowers through mortgage brokers. Also settling were AMC Mortgage Services Inc., Bedford Home Loans Inc., Town & Country Credit Corp., Olympus Mortgage Co. and Ameriquest Mortgage itself.
Airport stats: Traffic at LAX fell 5.5 percent last year, though passenger volumes in December were 3.6 percent higher than a year earlier and international volumes were up 6 percent. (LAT)
Martha moving: Stewart is giving up her syndicated show (seen locally on KCBS) and setting up shop on the Hallmark Channel with a two-and-a-half hour block of programming each day. (NYT)