Stocks mixed: Dow is up slightly (index is over 10,300), Wal-Mart is out with a tepid first-quarter outlook.
Inflation jump: It's considered a temporary blip for January, the result of higher energy costs. (AP)
Hiring up: More manufacturers are bringing back workers, another sign that the economy is slowly and fitfully coming back. From the WSJ:
Manufacturers, which currently employ about 9% of all American workers outside of farming, are chipper. "We are seeing demand starting to come back," says Scott Wine, chief executive officer of Medina, Minn.-based Polaris Industries Inc., which produces snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles. But, he added, "we're trying to look at ways to make sure we don't go out and get ahead of ourselves in terms of hiring and expenditures."
Ethics code adopted: Two L.A. private equity firms, Ares Management and Freeman Spogli & Co., will no longer use placement agents in securing business with a NY state pension fund. They also will not contribute to pension fund board members' campaigns. From the LAT:
The agreements with [NY Attorney General Andrew] Cuomo, signed Feb. 1, detail a December 2003 investment of $50 million in Ares by the New York State Common Retirement Fund and a January 2004 investment of the same amount with Freeman Spogli. In both instances, the private equity investment managers used the same sales intermediary, Wetherly Capital Group of Los Angeles, to help put together the deals. According to Cuomo's investigation, Wetherly paid part of its fee to Henry "Hank" Morris, who at the time was the paid political advisor to then-New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi.Job placement fraud case: The FTC has filed seven lawsuits as part of a crackdown on job placement firms that falsely promise work as federal employees, movie extras or assemblers of Christmas ornaments, among other positions. From the NYT:
In one of the largest schemes, officials said, Real Wealth Inc., of Lee's Summit, Mo., sold booklets to more than 100,000 people -- many of them elderly and disabled -- telling them they could make money from home by mailing postcards and envelopes and seeking government grants. Among other assertions, Real Wealth said customers could "rake in up to $1,500+ per week or more in solid cash" by learning "secrets" about the "$700 billion banking industry bailout." Reached by phone, the company's owner, Lance Murkin, said only, "I'm denying all charges."
Women still lagging: Men just out of business school are more likely to be assigned prestigious jobs - and receive higher pay - than women, according to a study by Catalyst. Also, just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEO's and 15 percent of directors are women. (ABC News)
Burkle bid rejected: The board of Barnes & Noble said no to the L.A. billionaire's request to change the rules so he could buy up a bigger stake in the book retailer. Burkle is already the largest outside shareholder, at 18.7 percent. (NY Post)
No to privatization: L.A. Convention Center officials say it's a bad idea, arguing that the department has been operating in the black for the past four years (not including $480 million in debt). Mayor Villaraigosa wants to bring in a private firm to manage the place. (Daily News)
More LAX runway lights: They'll be embedded along 10 high-speed taxiways and one runway. Lights were first installed last year as a way of warning pilots when it's safe to enter or cross a runway. (Daily Breeze)
Headline of the day: From the NY Post on tomorrow's re-appearance of Tiger Woods: "Lock up the waitresses!"