Stocks fall on earthquake news: Word of another shaker off the coast of Japan has Wall Street worried. The Dow is down about 40 points.
Jobless claims drop: Another sign of an improving economy - filings fell by another 10,000, to 382,000. The four-week moving average slipped to 389,500. Anything under 400,000 is decent. (Reuters)
Solid retail sales: March was a pretty good month for many of the chains, despite higher gas prices and poor weather back east. But expectations had been low. From the WSJ:
Costco, which posted a 13% rise in same-store sales when analysts were projecting a 7.4% gain, continued to benefit from higher gasoline prices at the pumps at its clubs, favorable foreign exchange rates and the continued economic recovery in California, where the company has a significant presence.
Emptier shopping malls: First-quarter vacancies were at their highest level in at least 11 years. Blame too many stores and a continued migration to online shopping. From the WSJ:
Not all retail properties have suffered as much, especially on the high end. Large, publicly traded mall owners like Simon Property Group Inc. and Taubman Centers Inc., which tend to own top-tier properties, have trimmed their vacancy rates to 7% or lower and lifted their lease rates in the past year, buoying their stock. But a broader glut has struck some of the exurbs that saw heavy housing development during the boom, where malls and strip centers built for growth that never came.
Bleak prospects for Borders: Publishers called the company's reorganization plan unrealistic and said that a sale or liquidation was likely. From the NYT:
One of Borders's major objectives is to persuade publishers to resume shipping new books to stores under its previous terms. Several publishers said they had been unwilling to ship books to Borders unless they were first paid in cash, and after the meeting on Wednesday, they said they were no more likely to resume normal trade terms with Borders. "We are not impressed," one publisher said of the plan. "None of it gave us any reason to think they can get themselves out of this. I don't think it's changed anybody's mind."
American Apparel not seeking a buyer: CEO Dov Charney says the company is not for sale, though the NY Post reports that he has been courting potential investors during the past week and an investment advisor has been hired to seek sources of liquidity. (LAT)
Google to open office in Bev Hills: A small one - 13,000 square feet. It'll house employees from YouTube and Google. (LAT)
New home for THR: Ironically, it's in the same Miracle Mile office complex that housed Variety a few years back. The Reporter will be moving from just down the block. (LABJ)
Rogers Group sells out: The L.A. PR firm is being bought by Ruder Finn. Financial terms not disclosed. (LABJ)