Friday morning headlines

Stocks still falling: The so-so jobs report doesn't appear to be helping. Dow is down about 40 points in early trading.

Toyota chief is sorry: Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota's founder, says he deeply regrets the quality issues and he will work "to regain the trust of our customers." Reporters attending a press conference in Tokyo said Toyoda did not seem ready for prime time. From the NYT:

Mr. Toyoda is among the industry's best-known executives, but he has been conspicuously absent in recent weeks, even as his company struggled on three continents to contain the fallout of problems that have shaken its long-held reputation for quality. Until Friday, Mr. Toyoda's only public comments came in a brief interview with a Japanese broadcaster on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Why employment news is good: NYT columnist Dave Leonhardt is looking at a three-month average of losses that show the economy has lost an average of 35,000 jobs, the best number since early 2008.

Among the other positive signs, the workweek increased, and the average hourly wage growth picked up a bit. The number of people working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work dropped by more than 800,000. These are all signs that the economy is turning. Why? Some of it is the natural rhythms of the economy, but a big part of it is the stimulus bill passed last year.

Mayor trumps Council: Lots of tap-dancing from Council President Eric Garcetti after Villaraigosa took over the budget-cutting process with his plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs. This comes a day after the Council deferred on any action. From the LAT:

Council President Eric Garcetti, however, said most of what the mayor proposed Thursday was similar to actions taken by the council. "I welcome and embrace it," Garcetti said, referring to the mayor's order. "I think it's a common recognition about how grave the situation is."

About those jobs transfers...: Villaraigosa's budgeteers say that at least 360 of the laid-off workers can be moved to positions unaffected by the budget crisis, including the ports and Los Angeles World Airports. But Daily Breeze reports that those agencies can only take 49 of those workers.

Rail line approved: Transportation officials signed off on plans for extending the Expo line from downtown Culver City to the corner of 4th Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. From the LAT:

The line is being mostly built on an abandoned Southern Pacific right of way and was originally touted by planners as a cost-effective and fast route for rail service to the Westside. But the first 8.6-mile link from downtown Los Angeles to Venice and Robertson boulevards is already more than a year behind schedule and is more than $220 million over its original budget of $640 million.

Anthem Blue Cross raises rates: Individual policyholders are getting killed, with premium increases of 30 percent to 39 percent. That's on top of similar jumps last year. From the LAT:

Many policyholders say the rate hikes are the largest they can remember, and they fear that subsequent premium growth will narrow their options -- leaving them to buy policies with higher deductibles and less coverage or putting health insurance out of reach altogether. "I've never seen anything like this," said Mark Weiss, 63, a Century City podiatrist whose Anthem policy for himself and his wife will rise 35%. The couple's annual insurance bill will jump to $27,336 from $20,184.

SEC drops Broadcom case: Feds will not pursue its civil action against co-founders Henry Nicholas III and Henry Samueli, as well as other executives. The SEC had alleged fraud in connection with the backdating of stock options. (AP)

Facebook has 400 million users: That's more than double the number from a year ago. (Mark Zuckerberg's blog)

Katzenberg buys big: The DreamWorks Animation CEO has paid $35 million for a 6-acre property in Bev Hills, just above the Greystone Mansion. Katzenberg bought the property under the name of a trust. (WSJ)

More by Mark Lacter:
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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
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