Friday morning headlines

Stocks open lower: Wall Street has been directionless much of the week, following the ups and down in the oil and foreign exchange markets,. Dow is down 50 points.

Big jump in inflation: The Consumer Price Index for the L.A. area rose 3.3 percent in April compared with a year earlier, much of it the result of higher fuel and food prices. (OC Register)

Small dip in gas prices: They always take longer to fall than to rise: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.268, down a couple of pennies from last week, according to the Auto Club. Oil, which has been bouncing around all week, is up a bit this morning.

Consumers confidence better-than-expected: The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan rose to 72.4, a three-month high. (Bloomberg)

Republicans finally release budget plan: They're proposing deep cuts for state workers, the mentally ill and the disabled - and of course no extended taxes. From the LAT:

Connie Conway of Tulare, leader of the Assembly's Republicans, said in a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. PĂ©rez (D-Los Angeles) that the plan "represents the common-sense solutions that we believe can be embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike in enacting a reasonable, no-tax-increase budget compromise.".

McCourt all alone: The Dodgers owner is not winning the support of other owners as he tries to hold onto the team. Far from it. From SI:

[MLB emissary Tom Schieffer] and the law form Proskauer Rose are poring over Dodgers paperwork. There are strong hints now that McCourt's serial borrowing may have left him in noncompliance with MLB's debt service rules. In McCourt's very first brief public statement after learning about Schieffer's appointment, he claimed he was in compliance, but other sources suggested some serious doubt about that. "I'm not going to get into that,'' said Selig, who added, "The sport has very definitive debt rules, and it's my job to make sure these rules are being enforced.''

Disney settles privacy suit: The company's Playdom games division had been accused of illegally collecting and disclosing personal information, which is a violation of federal rules. Under the settlement, Disney will pay $3 million. (LAT)

Royal wedding good for magazines: People racked up 2.5 million in newsstand sales, more than 1.2 million copies above its weekly average. (NY Post)

Ashton Kutcher to replace Charlie Sheen: He will join the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" for the new season. From Broadcasting & Cable:

Hiring the right actor to take Sheen's place on Men means millions to Warner Bros. and to CBS. Warner Bros. stands to make several billions of dollars (that's billions, with a b) on Two and a Half Men in domestic and international station and cable deals, while CBS charges more than $200,000 per 30-second spot in the sitcom, which is TV's most-watched. TV stations have the right to pass on the Sheen-less episodes, but if new episodes of Men continue to perform, TV stations should still want to acquire them.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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