Stocks on the rise: Good earnings from Ford and 3M, but bad numbers on home prices. Dow is up about 60 points.
L.A. home prices take another dip: The Case-Shiller Index fell 1 percent from January to February and 2.1 percent over the last 12 months - roughly the midpoint of the 20 metro areas surveyed. From press release:
"There is very little, if any, good news about housing. Prices continue to weaken, trends in sales and construction are disappointing." says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices.
Brown still floundering over budget: The new governor's efforts at compromise have been no more successful than efforts by the old governor, according to columnist Dan Walters:
It's since become evident that Democrats are in disarray. Brown is still publicly sticking to his campaign pledge to raise taxes only with voter approval, but the unions and their legislative allies don't want an election anymore - regardless of voter sentiment - and are now beating the drums for extending taxes without voter approval, which would also take at least four Republican votes.
Ford reports strong earnings: It's the largest first-quarter profit since 1968, though high gas prices still pose a threat to the automaker. From the NYT:
Typically, smaller cars result in lower profits. But new high-mileage models, including the Fiesta subcompact, allowed Ford to increase its pretax earnings in North America by 50 percent, to $1.8 billion. Globally, revenue rose 18 percent, to $33.1 billion. On a per-vehicle basis, Ford generated about $1,519 in profit worldwide, an increase of 59 percent from the first quarter a year ago, even though revenue per vehicle sold was up only 9 percent, to $22,096.
More questions about life insurance: This time it's MetLife, which has been subpoenaed by California regulators reviewing whether the company cheated policyholders' survivors. (Bloomberg)
L.A. sues low-income housing developer: Advanced Development and Investment is accused of reporting much higher construction costs than it actually incurred, and pocketing the difference. Lawyers estimate that the city could be on the hook for up to $180 million. From the LAT:
The allegations against ADI came to light last year as a result of a divorce case involving the company's president, Salim Karimi, and Jannki Mithaiwala, the daughter of the company's founder, Ajit Mithaiwala. The judge appointed a receiver who examined the company's books and reported that he had discovered "potential fraud and criminal activity." ADI has built more than 50 projects in California. In addition to getting money from cities such as Glendale and L.A., the company has received millions of dollars in tax credits awarded by the state to firms that build low-income properties.
SEC shuts down Bev Hills hedge fund: Two men allegedly targeted retirees, professors, and Christians by misrepresenting the business and its financial performance. The SEC filed a complaint accusing the pair of fraud and seeking penalties. (LAT)
KCET sell property: As expected, the Church of Scientology is purchasing the public television station's 4.5-acre studio lot on Sunset Boulevard. Terms not disclosed. The station will relocate within a year. (LAO)
Kings move to Anaheim still possible: The team is not definitely staying in Sacramento. There's still concern among the owners about the city's long-term commitment, and they have not decided whether to file a relocation request by May 2. (Sacramento Bee)