Market keeps lumbering: Last week's slow-mo sessions seem to be carrying over. Dow is up about 40 points.
Brighter prospects for 2011: Expansion will accelerate as the year progresses, according to a WSJ survey of economists, with growth projections, on average, to be 3 percent.
Data on trade, retail sales, consumer sentiment and manufacturing have been looking better. Economists also were generally encouraged by news from Washington on a tax-cut compromise that included an unexpected temporary reduction in payroll taxes in addition an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
Fewer homeowners under water: But the drop is slight: About 10.8 million homes, or 22.5 percent of those with mortgages, were worth less than the debt owed on them as of Sept. 30, according to CoreLogic, down from 23 percent at the end of June. (Bloomberg)
Senate expected to pass tax bill: Looks like there will be more than enough votes when a key vote comes up later today. That brings it to the House, where the prospects are less certain. (Washington Post)
Ex-Vitesse executives indicted: Former CEO Louis Tomasetta and former Executive VP Eugene Hovanec were released on bond after pleading not guilty. They're accused of defrauding investors in the Camarillo technology firm by overstating its revenue and manipulating stock options. (LAT)
Big bus orders?: Chinese battery and car maker BYD is in talks with L.A. officials to supply e-buses that could eventually lead to a manufacturing plant in the city. From the WSJ:
[Stella Li, BYD's senior vice president and head of its U.S. operations] said BYD plans to ship at least one electric bus by the second quarter of next year as "a demonstration vehicle" so that "the city could experience our bus first-hand." If the test produced positive results, then the Los Angeles municipal government and BYD would sign an agreement to make the Chinese company a formal supplier of city buses.
Mark Madoff was anxious in recent days: The son of scamster Bernie Madoff, who committed suicide over the weekend, had been upset by a rash of lawsuits and by the second anniversary of his father's arrest. From the NYT:
"Andy was always tougher than Mark," said a friend, referring to Mr. Madoff's younger brother. "Mark was much more sensitive and took all the press coverage very personally." "He loved his wife and his kids so much," this friend added. "The only way to accept this is that he was in so much pain, and that pain outweighed the love he had for his wife and his kids. And I guess he thought this was the only way out."
No Fear not paying bills: The Carlsbad-based clothing chain has been sued by several area malls for falling months behind in rent. Sales have been way down because of the economy and intense competition. (LAT)
Burkle taking over supermarket chain?: A&P's bankruptcy could allow the L.A. billionaire to gain control from the German-based Tengelmann family, which has been a major investor in the company for decades. (NY Post)
Icahn pulls Lions Gate offer: Says that there's no chance he could win a proxy contest. (DealBook)