Stocks sharply higher: The Dow has made up all its losses from yesterday - and then some. Index is up 160 points. Guess it's the jobs report.
Strong employment report: The U.S. economy added 244,000 jobs last month, way higher than economists had been expected. But the unemployment rate rose to 9 percent from 8.8 percent in March. What gives? From the NYT:
While better than expected, Friday's numbers still offered a few cautionary signs that the national economy had a long way to go. Though down from its peak of 10.1 percent in late 2009, April's unemployment rate reflects only those Americans who are still actively looking for work. And while any job creation is a positive, last month's growth was barely enough to absorb people entering the work force in the United States, much less to quickly shrink the unemployment rolls.
Oil prices keep falling: At last check crude futures stood at $99.16 a barrel, but they had been as low as $94.63. Analysts seem doubtful that prices will drop much further. (DJ)
But gas prices keep rising: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.289, about a nickel higher than last week, reports the Auto Club. But the plunge in oil futures is certain to bring those numbers down in the coming weeks.
IRS goes after Kabbalah Centre: The L.A.-based spiritual organization, made famous by the participation of Madonna, is at the center of a federal tax evasion investigation, the LAT reports. At issue is whether nonprofit money was used for the personal enrichment of the Berg family, which controls the center.
Among the items that investigators have reviewed, according to one source, is an August 2010 email in which a former chief financial officer of the center complained that he had been fired for pointing out financial improprieties and warned that the center was in danger of "committing suicide." "I recently uncovered instances of income tax fraud at the Kabbalah Centre -- instances which could bankrupt several of the directors involved ... this is very serious business," the former CFO, Nicholas Vakkur, wrote in an email that circulated among high-level officials at the center. "I have little choice but to cooperate with the IRS and bring down the entire Kabbalah Centre," Vakkur wrote, adding a plea that "someone in authority" try to "reason" with center Chief Executive Karen Berg.
Warner Music sold to Russian billionaire: Len Blavatnik is buying the music company for $3.3 billion, or $8.25 a share, a 4.4 percent premium. Deal includes the assumption of debt. From DealBook:
The sale may eventually lead to more consolidation in the music industry. Many consider Mr. Blavatnik's next step to be an attempt to combine Warner Music's record-music arm with that of the EMI Group, which Citigroup currently owns after foreclosing on its previous owner. That would shrink the number of big global record companies to three from four, and perhaps the combined Warner-EMI entity would find enough cost savings to become financially healthy.
Concert business is improving: Bev Hills-based Live Nation reported a narrower first-quarter loss of $54.3 million, thanks to strong ticket sales by Lady Gaga, U2, Prince and others. From the LAT:
But Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino cautioned against projecting those gains into the rest of the concert season, which peaks during the second half of the summer. "Even though the numbers look good for the first quarter, we think it will normalize ... and maybe even eat into our early leads," Rapino told analysts in a conference call. "This year, the good stuff went out early. Now, we're in the thick of the season, and we're starting to see some softness" among lesser-known second- and third-tier performers.
Demand Media changes course: The Santa Monica-based content company plans to raise the quality of its how-to articles and videos. Google has made changes to its engine algorithms to reduce the amount of lower-quality content surfacing high in results. Demand stock is up this morning. (Reuters)
Film Department shutting down: Bad timing for the movie production company, which got started just as the recession took hold and couldn't arrange for refinancing later on. (Deadline)
CEOs say CA worst state to do business: It's the third straight year that the state has wound up dead last in a survey by Chief Executive magazine (funny how so few companies are bailing). Taxes and quality of workforce were among the reasons cited. (OC Register)
Protest over LAX concession bids: SP America, which was denied the food and beverage contract last year, now claims that the company was unfairly scored in the re-bidding process. So it is now asking the Board of Airport Commissioners to re-evaluate the re-bidding. (Daily Breeze)
Rick Caruso drops out of LAX bidding: This one is for the concessions at the expanded Bradley terminal (a different contract than what SP is challenging). Process has dragged out and the airport won't give the contractor control over duty-free shops and advertising. (LA Weekly)
Real estate news: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is buying a 5,000-square-foot home in Palo Alto for $7 million. He's a first-time homeowner (Mercury News). Actor Mel Gibson has relisted his Malibu compound for $11.8 million, reduced from the original $14.5 million asking price (WSJ).