Stocks extend gains: Some better news on jobless claims, but retailers had a soft June. Go figure... Dow is up about 60 points in early trading.
Retailers struggle: Limited Brands and Macy's reported solid gains for June, but Target was below Wall Street expectations and locally based Hot Topic reported a decline in revenue. From AP:
The lackluster performance, being compared with a weak June 2009, is raising concerns about the back-to-school shopping season and the health of the economic recovery. After ramping up spending surprisingly in the first quarter, shoppers have hunkered down since April. Some worry they'll continue to be tight-fisted through the holiday shopping season.
Why do studios keep losing?: A Riverside jury has awarded $270 million to the producer of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (pending an appeal by defendant Disney), and Don Johnson was awarded $23 million in profits from Rysher Entertainment over "Nash Bridges." Guess juries have finally discovered the vagaries of Hollywood accounting. From THR:
After an initial wave of vertical integration cases (some of which settled with big payouts), many studios changed deal language to limit damages and require private arbitration of claims. A key appeals court decision involving Gary Wolf, a profit participant on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," also helped the studio cause, ruling that participants aren't owed fiduciary duties, which eliminates the possibility of punitive damages in most cases. "Everyone got discouraged," said [attorney Larry] Stein, who represented Celador in the first few years of the six-year litigation but was not involved in the trial. "But then the studios decided to fight a few of these cases on the older deals. A jury is always going to ask, 'How much money did the studio make and how much did the profit participant make?' And the jury will look at it and say, 'That can't be.' "
Iger not happy about verdict: Disney CEO tells Bloomberg Television that "the judge and the jury got it all wrong" (catch the outfit).
BP ahead of schedule?: Point person Bob Dudley tells the WSJ that "in a perfect world" it may be possible to fix its runaway gusher by July 27, weeks before the deadline (BP tamped down on those comments this morning).
At the same time, BP is readying a series of backup plans in case its current operations go awry. These include connecting the rogue well to existing pipelines in two nearby underwater gas and oil fields, according to company and administration officials. Much of the additional planning has been pushed by the U.S. government, which has urged BP to develop what one official called the "backup to the backup plan." Both BP and the federal government are concentrating on their next steps, particularly because of uncertainty caused by the imminent hurricane season and the protracted political and financial damage caused by the endless spill.
Near-misses cause concern: Airliners have come close to colliding with other planes or helicopters at least a half-dozen times in Burbank, SF and other cities in recent months. From AP:
Major airline crashes have dropped dramatically over the past decade due in large part to advances in safety equipment in cockpits, such as the collision warning systems. However, one consequence has been that it's easy for controllers and pilots to lose their edge, said former Transportation Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo. "People come to rely on the equipment and the collision warning systems, and that's bad," Schiavo said.
Hare Krishna loses appeal: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the sect's representatives, along with other solicitors, should be banned from seeking donations at LAX. That revives a 1997 law aimed at preventing panhandlers from asking for cash from airport travelers. (Daily Breeze)
Governor, controller duke it out: The issue is whether most state workers should be getting paid minimum wage until the budget impasse is resolved. The governor says yes, state Controller John Chiang says no. From the Sacramento Bee:
Schwarzenegger contends that the state constitution and a 2003 California Supreme Court decision require him, absent a state budget, to cut employee pay to the federal minimum. Chiang's suit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, argues that the governor's letter ordering minimum wage is legally deficient and seeks a court order deeming it invalid. The controller argues that he is being forced to choose between violating Schwarzenegger's order or violating various federal and state laws.
Blue Shield of California is sued: A Los Angeles woman alleges that the health insurer overcharged thousands of policyholders who were eligible for coverage because they lost their jobs or who had preexisting conditions. (LAT)
Socal Gas stays downtown: Utility has renewed its lease with MPG Office Trust Inc., formerly Maguire Properties, for 15 years. Company has 350,000 square feet at the Gas Co. Tower on Fifth Street. (LAT)
Emmy nominations are out: "Glee," "Mad Men," and, "The Pacific" did really well. (The Wrap)