Wednesday morning headlines

Stocks keep sliding: Last week's gains are but a memory - Dow is down 70 points in early trading.

GM reports $2-billion profit: It's the third straight profitable quarter for the U.S. automaker, which will go public next week. (AP)

Surging commodity prices: Wheat, rice, cotton, crude oil - they're all on the rise and that means consumers will be paying more for everything from shirts to cereal. From the LAT:

Those increases are being driven in part by short supplies of some crops and raw materials caused by poor weather in major producing regions and robust demand from emerging markets such as China and India. Investors and speculators also are pushing up prices as they jump into rising commodity markets. They are being drawn to these so-called hard assets to hedge against inflation and the risk of further devaluation of the dollar and other paper currencies.

But TVs are cheaper: We're talking about name-brand 32-inch sets for $249 and 42-inchers for $500. Demand is expected to be weaker than in previous years. From the WSJ:

"Manufacturers are really working with retailers to offer better deals, which tells you there has to be some excess inventory somewhere," says Paul Ryder, Amazon's vice president of consumer electronics. He notes that some LG Electronics Inc. televisions on sale through Amazon now come with four free pairs of 3-D glasses.

Cruise ship update: The fire-damaged Carnival Splendor is being towed to San Diego instead of Ensenada, which means it won't reach land until late Thursday. From USA Today:

Carnival says some shipboard programming, including children's programs and entertainment, are being provided, but air conditioning on the vessel remains down and there is no hot food service. Some cabin toilets also remain inoperable, though engineers have been able to restore toilet service in most cabins and all public bathrooms, the line says.

Karatz sentenced today: The federal probation office recommends eight months of home confinement for the former CEO of KB Home, plus 2,000 hours of community service. Prosecutors want 6 1/2 years in prison, pointing out that home detention would be served in Karatz's 24-room Bel-Air mansion. (LAT)

Another loss for American Apparel: The deathwatch continues as the L.A.-based manufacturer warns that it has "substantial doubt" about its viability going forward. The company lost $9.5 million in its most recent quarter. (Reuters)

Big return for Calpers: California's giant pension fund earned a 13.3 percent return for the fiscal year ended in June , compared with a 23.4 percent loss the previous year. The results are way better than the fund's targeted return of 7.75 percent, though they're unlikely to remain that high. (LAT)

Valencia mall adding 40 stores: The 180,000-square-foot addition to Westfield Town Center will open on Thursday and increase the number of retailers to more than 150. (Daily News)

Outcry over Barnes & Noble closure: I was on "Which Way, L.A.?" last night talking about the uproar in Encino over shutting the bookstore. Also on the show: Robin Premaul, who is leading the protest, D.J. Waldie, and Skylight Books co-owner Kerry Slattery.

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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