Thursday morning headlines

Stocks move higher: Some encouraging job news may be playing a role. Dow is up about 80 points.

Debt deal near?: Speaker John Boehner tells House Republicans that the chances of a tentative debt-ceiling agreement within 48 hours is "maybe 50-50." If it doesn't happen now, the thinking goes, negotiations could come unglued. (National Journal)

Private payrolls jump in June: The 157,000-job gain was more than double what some economists had expected and could signal an end to the recent soft patch. The government reports its June employment numbers on Friday. (MarketWatch)

Drop in jobless claims: Another encouraging sign: Filings fell by 14,000 to 418,000 in the week ended July 2. That's still quite high, but at least the numbers have been dropping. (Bloomberg)

Retailers beat expectations: Macy's, Costco, Target and Gap all topped Wall Street estimates. J. C. Penney was one of a few losers. From Reuters:

Consumers remained under pressure last month from high food and gasoline prices, prompting retailers to offer deals to get them to shop. But the strategy apparently succeeded. "They are very focused on making the right offer to the consumer, in contrast to the uneducated sales we saw during the crisis," said Janet Hoffman, global managing director for Accenture's Retail Practice. "The sales now are much more targeted."

Antitrust chief steps down: Christine Varney is leaving the Justice Department to join Cravath, Swaine & Moore as a partner. From DealBook:

Ms. Varney, 55, who was appointed by President Obama in January 2009, was expected to bring a more aggressive antitrust approach to Washington after what many legal experts saw as a period of lax enforcement during the Bush administration. "She was faced with an agency that had been decimated and had to turn that ship around, which takes time," said Bert Foer, the president of the American Antitrust Institute, a nonprofit agency that generally argues for more competition. "She got it moving in the right direction."

FDIC sues former IndyMac CEO: Federal regulators are accusing Michael Perry of causing more than $600 million in losses from risky mortgage loans. "Instead of enforcing credit standards, Perry chose to roll the dice in an aggressive gamble to increase market share while sacrificing credit standards," the FDIC said in the complaint. (Bloomberg)

MLB pushes back on McCourt: League says that the Dodger owner tried to take $20 million out of the Dodgers in late April, as the team's payroll problems were escalating. Next bankruptcy hearing is set for July 20. (LAT)

Animation shakeup. Paramount announced plans to create its own animation division, which probably means that longtime partner DreamWorks Animation will be in the market for a new distributor. From the LAT:

Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures are the most likely distribution partners for DreamWorks Animation, say people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak on the record. Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures have their own animation units and are said by people familiar with the matter not to be interested in releasing DreamWorks Animation's films.

Ground-breaking on toll lanes: The plan is to convert 25 miles of existing carpool lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways into high-occupancy toll lanes (solo drivers will pay up to $1.40 a mile during peak rush-hour traffic). From the LAT:

Rep. Gary G. Miller of Diamond Bar, the senior California Republican on the House Transportation Committee, said earlier this year that the toll amounts to double taxation and "absolutely infuriates" him. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said it would set up a "traffic system of haves and have-nots." In response to critics who said toll lanes discriminate against low-income drivers, the pilot program will offer a $25 discount on the $75 deposit required to set up a prepaid toll account for lane users with household incomes of $35,000 or less.

More by Mark Lacter:
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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
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