Stocks back up: Once more, the Dow is closing in on 11,000, amid new talk that the recovery is for real. Then again, there are new worries about Greece...
Why so glum? NYT columnist Floyd Norris says folks are still reluctant to acknowledge that the recession is over and the economy is on the mend:
Some Americans are in deep trouble, to be sure, and the days of paying for second homes by refinancing the mortgage on the first will not return soon. But many Americans -- both individuals and businesses -- who cut back sharply when fear was at a peak a year ago are now finding that they overreacted. The businesses need to hire to meet demand, some of it coming from individuals who are less fearful now of losing their own jobs.
Still bearish on jobs: A Grant Thornton survey of California CFOs finds that only 38 percent plan to hire more people in the next six months while 22 percent plan to hire fewer.
Banks mask risk levels: They're temporarily lowering their debt levels just before reporting them, the WSJ reports, citing data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The group includes all the majors (and Norris wonders why we're still glum?).
Excessive borrowing by banks was one of the major causes of the financial crisis, leading to catastrophic bank runs in 2008 at firms including Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers. Since then, banks have become more sensitive about showing high levels of debt and risk, worried that their stocks and credit ratings could be punished. That practice, while legal, can give investors a skewed impression of the level of risk that financial firms are taking the vast majority of the time.
L.A.'s money miracle: An unexpected $30 million from property taxes, along with other moves by the council, should keep the city going through the end of the fiscal year. The city's interim financial head is expected to explain more fully today. (LAT)
Walmart lowering prices: The retail giant is trying to reverse months of slowing sales in the U.S. Roughly 10,000 items are being reduced, mostly food and other staples. (WSJ)
Closing arguments in Karatz trial: The prosecution says the former CEO of KB Home illegally backdated stock options to make his already rich compensation package even richer. The defense says that the prosecution's case is based on flawed testimony. (LAT)
Tribune creditors cut deal: The brokered agreements set the stage for the media company (and parent of the LAT) to file its reorganization plan by Tuesday. As part of that plan, a 91.2 percent stake in Tribune would be handed over to the group of banks and hedge funds that financed the company's 2007 leveraged buyout. There are still a number of disgruntled parties.(Chicago Tribune)
Paying for new gas meters: On a 3-2 vote, the Public Utilities Commission signed off on a request by Southern California Gas to charge customers an extra 70 cents a month for the installation of radio-controlled smart meters. Opponents say it's a waste of money. (LAT)
Proposed emissions cuts: The ports of L.A. and Long Beach are revising a joint environmental plan that aims to cut diesel emissions by 85 percent over the next decade. The revisions are needed because growth at the two ports has slowed. (Daily Breeze)
Rich foreclosures: Houses with loans of $5 million or more will likely see a sharp rise in notices of sale, according to RealtyTrac. In February alone, 352 homes nationwide were in this category, compared with 1,312 in all of 2009. (WSJ)
Diane Keaton relists home: Her seven-bedroom, nine-bath Spanish Colonial Revival house in Bev Hills is now going for $10.95 million. Last year, she had it listed for just under $13 million, but took it off the market after several months. (WSJ)