Thursday morning headlines

Wall Street wavers: Stocks are hovering around the line after an hour of trading. Looks like a directionless day.

Jobless claims rise: Initial claims for unemployment are running at a seasonally adjusted 462,000, which is 70,000 or 80,000 claims higher than it should be at this point in the recovery. (AP)

CA foreclosures increase: September filings were up almost 8.8 percent from the previous month, according to RealtyTrac, though they were down 12.9 percent from September 2009. One out of 178 households in the state received a foreclosure filing last month; national average was one out of 371.

Obama resists national foreclosure freeze: White House officials worry that it would delay the real estate recovery even further by driving down prices. (LAT)

Big changes at Oxy: As expected, CEO Ray Irani will be stepping down next May, to be succeeded by COO Steve Chazen. Irani stays on as executive chairman until 2014. In addition, the L.A.-based energy company said it would cut the salaries of its top executives to bring them more in line with peers. From Reuters:

Irani's pay has garnered media attention over the years, and in July he was featured in the Wall Street Journal's front page for earning $857 million in the past decade, making him third on the list of best-paid public company executives in that time. Meanwhile, Irani's agreement to step down follows months of negotiations between Occidental directors and a pair of prominent funds - Relational Investors LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) - waging a proxy fight for seats on the company's board.

Yahoo for sale?: Both the WSJ and All Things D say that buyout firms might team up with AOL in a possible acquisition, but the NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin says a deal is not happening anytime soon.

Making a deal work would require fancy footwork and risk. AOL's market value is about $2 billion, while Yahoo's is now about $20 billion -- before a premium. The back-of-the-envelope math requires that Yahoo sell its 39 percent stake in Alibaba, considered one of the company's biggest and most desirable assets, which could be worth $12 billion. That would put Yahoo closer to a more-reasonable $8 billion, again before a premium. But Yahoo believes that Alibaba will fetch more in a public spinoff down the road than in a sale now, so why sell now?

Dems Senate prospects improving: Five Thirty Eight's Nate Silver now gives the Republicans an 18 percent chance of taking over the Senate, down from 24 percent last week. In the House, the Democrats are only given a 26 percent chance of holding onto the majority.

Wal-Mart taking smaller path: The retail giant will be opening 30 to 40 medium- and small-format stores next year as it tries to move into more urban markets. Most of the new locations will be 40,000-60,000 square feet; a typical Supercenter runs to about 185,000 square feet. (FT)

Anthem accused of misrepresentation: The L.A. City Attorney's office says that the health insurer misled the public earlier this year when it denied targeting women with breast cancer for cancellation. The city first sued the company in 2008, alleging false advertising and fraud. (LAT)

United to Shanghai: Service out of LAX begins on May 20. Last week, American received permission to begin Shanghai service, beginning April 5. (Daily Breeze)

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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