Stocks keep gaining: The Dow tacks on another 20 points this morning to yesterday's 169-point rally.
Toyota's latest problem: Some steering complaints on the Corolla (years not specified). Sounds very limited (fewer than 100 reports) and Toyota is looking into it. Meanwhile, company says it's overhauling its approach to quality and safety. From the NYT:
To restore trust in its cars, the company plans to install new brake-override systems in all future models. The brake override system ensures that if both the accelerator and brake pedals are pressed down, the brakes are activated and not the accelerator. Some experts and drivers have suggested that electronic problems were to blame for some of Toyota's problems with sudden acceleration, but [Toyota President Akio] Toyoda denied that there was a problem with the company's electronic throttle systems.
More stimulus spending: Only about a third of the money has been spent, much of that to maintain social services and government jobs. Now, the focus switches to infrastructure. From the WSJ:
The ramped-up stimulus spending in 2010 will contribute 1.4 percentage points to gross domestic product growth this year, said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist for IHS Global Insight. But Mr. Bethune says that may not translate into significant improvement in the unemployment rate, a growing political threat for the administration and congressional Democrats. Infrastructure spending "doesn't really have a big impact on net employment, simply because a lot of the activity is mechanized," he said.
Still-struggling economy: Recession relief is coming, but it won't happen until next year, according to the L.A. Economic Development Corp. And even then, expect double-digit unemployment. Among the growth areas: health services, major construction projects, trade, tourism and retail. (Daily News)
Port report: January numbers were still weak, with inbound traffic at the Port of L.A. down 6.7 percent from a year earlier. But the Port of Long Beach saw an 8.6 percent increase. Outbound traffic jumped at both ports, reflecting continued strength in the export area.
County slashes reimbursements: ER docs treating poor, uninsured patients at private hospitals will only receive 18 percent of their fees, down from 27 percent. The rate cut could lead more emergency rooms closures. From the LAT:
Supervisor Don Knabe said he regretted the rate cut. "Financing at that level to pay doctors for 24/7 lifesaving emergency care is an insult to the doctors and a further threat to the already-fraying hospital emergency care safety net upon which we all depend," Knabe said. "I will move approval only because the alternative is even worse -- no payment at all." L.A. County Department of Health Services had suspended the reimbursements July 1, meaning no doctors have received payments for treating uninsured patients since then.
Tribune probe sought: The U.S. trustee's office asked Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey to appoint an examiner to investigate Sam Zell's leveraged buyout of the media conglomerate (and parent of the LAT). Hearing on the Tribune bankruptcy is set for Thursday. (Chicago Tribune)
More maneuvering at Lions Gate: Carl Icahn has launched a tender offer to raise his stake in the movie company to about 30 percent. First, though, he has to negotiate a waiver with the company's lenders to avoid accelerated payments on debt. (FT)
Gas falls below $3: An average gallon in the L.A. area is $2.974, down almost 14 cents from a month ago, according to the government's weekly report.
NYT reporter resigns: Zachery Kouwe, who wrote for the paper's DealBook blog, was caught plagiarizing numerous stories from other news organizations. From the NY Observer:
Mr. Kouwe says he has never fabricated a story, nor has he knowingly plagiarized. "Basically, there was a minor news story and I thought we needed to have a presence for it on the blog," he said, referring to DealBook. "In the essence of speed, I'll look at various wire services and throw it into our back-end publishing system, which is WordPress, and then I'll go and report it out and make sure all the facts are correct. It's not like an investigative piece. It's usually something that comes off a press release, an earnings report, it's court documents." "I'll go back and rewrite everything," he continued. "I was stupid and careless and fucked up and thought it was my own stuff, or it somehow slipped in there. I think that's what probably happened."