Stocks still rising: Wall Street continues to ignore the gloomy news. Dow is up about 30 points.
Bonds out of favor: That's a big reason for steady gains in the equity markets. From the WSJ:
Analysts say investors, tired of earning nothing on their cash, are taking advantage of dips in the stock market to buy. That sentiment has been largely missing since late 2008 amid the drubbing that was handed to many who tried to pick the bottom of that brutal bear market. The recent inclination to buy the dips has been particularly strong among investors who missed the market's big rally since March 2009 because they were sitting in cash or gravitating toward bonds.
Consumer spending on the rise: But a big part of February's increase went to cover higher gas prices. If energy costs keep going up, it'll leave consumers with less money to spend on other items. (AP)
Harry & David files Chapter 11: The fruit basket and gift seller was brought down by a weak economy and lots competitors. Company expects to continue operating during the reorganization. (AP)
Blockbuster to close 150 stores: The list includes locations in El Segundo, L.A., Anaheim Hills, Santa Ana and Newport Beach. The movie-rental chain has won permission to sell itself at auction. (Bloomberg)
Checking for radiation at Port of Long Beach: The first ship to reach Socal since Japan's earthquake was boarded and scanned by Coast Guard and federal customs officials before being allowed to dock. From the NYT:
The shipping industry's fears have escalated since port officials in Xiamen, China, earlier this week detected radiation on a large container ship belonging to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and quarantined the ship. The vessel had sailed down Japan's northeast coast and reportedly came no closer than 80 miles to the damaged nuclear power plant; the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday afternoon that the vessel had left a berth at the port on Wednesday afternoon and then anchored briefly at sea.
State GOP ranks keep dwindling: A new voter registration report shows Republicans dropping to 30.9 percent, their lowest level in recorded history, while the Democrats maintained their share at about 44 percent. From Dan Walters:
It's not a stretch to say that the Republican Party, which once dominated California politics and was very competitive into the 1990s, has devolved into a party of rapidly aging white people, and as they disappear, its fortunes may sink further.
Budget talks about over: The Republicans finally offered up their proposals, the Democrats said forget about it, and that is pretty much that. But now what? From Bloomberg:
"You can't expect to ram through a complete agenda as a minority party when all the governor is doing is asking to give the people the right to vote," said Gil Duran, a Brown spokesman. "Any reasonable person knows you can't get 53 things for the price of one."
MySpace prospects keep getting dimmer: Traffic to the site plunged 44 percent last month compared with a year earlier, and visitors spent on average 59 percent less time in February than they did a year earlier. Myspace owner News Corp. is trying to unload the website. (WSJ)
L.A. sells off "clean tech" site: The city had been trying to lease out the 21 acres south of downtown, but nothing seemed to take. So real estate investment firm Genton Property Group has purchased the Washington Blvd. property for $15.4 million. From the Business Journal:
The sale moved forward rapidly and with little fanfare, in comparison to the hoopla surrounding past efforts to redevelop the site. The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency approved the sale March 17, and the City Council ratified the deal the next day. The CRA is hustling to close the sale before a loan on the property comes due May 1. Officials said the quick action was partly due to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to dismantle local redevelopment agencies, which would affect the ability of the local CRA to move forward with the project.