Stocks open lower, then head higher: Talk about forward momentum. Dow is up about 30 points.
L.A. home prices take dip: The drop was 0.6 percent from December to January, according to the Case-Shiller Index, and 1.8 percent year over year. Other cities fared a lot worse, including Chicago (7.5 percent) and Seattle (6.7 percent). From press release:
"The housing market recession is not yet over, and none of the statistics are indicating any form of sustained recovery," says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's. "At most, we have seen all statistics bounce along their troughs; at worst, the feared double-dip recession may be materializing.
Economy may be losing momentum: Goldman Sachs economists had been pretty upbeat about first quarter growth, but now they warn of "significant downside risk." Consumers are just not spending enough. (LAT)
Plummeting consumer confidence: After five months of improvement, the Conference Board index fell to 63.4 from 72 in February. A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy. (AP)
Women vs. Walmart: Big case before the Supreme Court today - at issue is whether women employees will be granted class-action status to sue the company for discrimination. From Daily Ticker:
In litigation that started a decade ago, female Wal-Mart employees are charging that they've been overlooked when it comes to hiring and promotion at the nation's largest private-sector employer. For its part, the company argues that it has strong anti-discrimination policies in place at the corporate level, and that hiring and promotion are decentralized. The case, Dukes vs. Walmart, could be used to set a new precedent for such litigation, which is one of the reasons many business groups have chimed in on the side of Wal-Mart.
City Council considers Wilshire Grand development: The sides of the proposed downtown towers would have outdoor advertising up to 10 stories high. Not everybody is happy with that. From the LAT:
Supporters say the plan, modeled after similar technology on the Chanel building in Tokyo and the Cira Centre in Philadelphia, would bring energy and vibrancy to a stretch of downtown -- the Figueroa Corridor -- that already is being remade by the L.A. Live complex a few blocks to the south. Opponents say the plan would reopen the way for turning high-rise towers into massive versions of the electronic billboards that have generated protests in many parts of the city.
Council takes up LAX taxi contract: The 10-year deal involves the folks who manage cabs at the airport. LAX officials currently receive about $700,000 a year from the company in exchange for doing business. (City Maven)
State budget talks continue: But it's not at all clear where they're heading - and still no word on when lawmakers will vote on whether to put the governor's tax extension plan on the ballot. (Sacramento Bee)
Jobs available for port work: Contractors expect to hire as many as 5,000 workers for the Long Beach projects, including replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, and L.A. will hire more than 2,000 for projects in San Pedro totaling $1.5 billion. (Press-Telegram)
Warner Bros. eyes Flixster: Studio would pay close to $90 million for the popular movie ratings website. News Corp. has a 20 percent share in Flixster. (LAT)