Stocks open higher: Dow is edging closer to the 13,000 mark, as bulls and bears take sides. Index is up 40 points.
Consumer spending rises: But that's largely because people are paying more for gasoline. Less growth in discretionary spending is a big reason the overall economy has slowed. (AP)
Gas prices inch higher: An average gallon in the L.A. area was still up over last week, according to the Auto Club, but only by about 2 cents, to $4.237. No sign yet of any pullback.
Strong earnings for Occidental: All the oil companies did quite well in the first quarter, including L.A.-based Oxy, which posted a 46 percent jump in earnings. (Reuters)
Are refineries pulling back? Despite increasing demand, they're producing less gasoline than usual for this time of year. They're also exporting more to foreign countries. From the LAT:
Part of that can be explained by the increasing use of ethanol, usually made from corn, which is added after gasoline is refined. Ethanol boosts fuel supply without increasing petroleum consumption just as adding crackers to meatloaf makes more dinner with less beef. A bigger factor, some experts say, is refiners' business strategy: Having only recently returned to strong profits and leery of potential erosion in consumption, the companies are playing it cautiously. "They aren't going to try to match production to demand. You aren't going to see anyone running full out right now," said Brian L. Milne, refined-fuels editor for Telvent DTN, which provides commodity price information to businesses.
California 99ers top 400,000: Those are the number of people in the state who have exhausted their 99 weeks of jobless benefits. As of March, more than one million people in California had been out of work at least six months -- 46.8 percent of all the state's unemployed. (OC Register)
Dodgers facing cash crisis?: That's what owner Frank McCourt is telling the WSJ, maintaining that the refusal by baseball commissioner Bud Selig to sign off on a big television deal with Fox will put the club in financial distress.
Mr. McCourt said he has been working since November with News Corp.'s Fox unit to raise money to solve the team's financial challenges and settle his ongoing divorce from his wife, Jamie. He said Mr. Selig has stymied the effort by withholding approval of four proposed deals, two of which were large loans. The latest, presented Wednesday, is a media-rights deal worth about $3 billion and includes a 35% stake for Mr. McCourt in the Southern California regional sports network Prime Ticket, according to people familiar with the details.
Jamie McCourt complicates Fox agreement: Frank's estranged wife has not signed off on the television contract, which is one reason Commissioner Bud Selig has not approved the deal, reports the LAT.
In correspondence with the commissioner's office, Jamie McCourt asserted her right to a say in the Dodgers' television deals by virtue of her half-ownership of the team, according to a person familiar with the communication. Although he has not discussed his specific concerns publicly, Selig also has objections to the agreement beyond Jamie McCourt's claim, according to the people familiar with the situation who would speak only anonymously because of the possibility that Frank McCourt might file suit against Major League Baseball.
Voting to dissolve Vernon: The state Assembly bill would make the scandal-ridden industrial city an unincorporated area overseen by the County Board of Supervisors. (LAT)
Aetna scales back rate hikes: Premiums for individual policyholders will only increase an average of 12.2 percent, instead of 17.9 percent, as first proposed. Aetna is the third major California health insurer to reduce rates. (LAT)
LAX traffic up a bit: The airport saw a 2.9 percent increase in passengers last month compared with a year earlier. But airlines have been slapping fuel surcharges on fares, and that might impact summer season travel. (Daily Breeze)