Wednesday morning headlines

Stocks holding on: Dow opened sharply higher and has since pulled back. It's now up about 20 points. Could be a shaky day.

Has gold finally peaked?: After climbing by more than $400 an ounce since July, the precious metal is beginning to slide, down about $43 in today's trading. From Reuters:

A resurgence in investment demand has fueled gold's rally in the past decade, particularly during periods of global economic slowdown, growing from 4 percent of total demand for gold in 2000 to over 39 percent in 2010, according to Citigroup. "However, we caution that this very aspect that provided support for gold over this time may result in its downfall going forward," the bank said in a note.

Waiting for Bernanke: Guessing game on Wall Street about whether the Federal Reserve announces new stimulus plans. From the NYT:

Among the options Mr. Bernanke is expected to lay out on Friday would be engaging in another round of major asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, which is meant to lower long-term interest rates; lowering the interest rate the Federal Reserve pays banks on their reserves; and extending the maturity structure of the Fed's current portfolio of Treasuries, which analysts expect to be the most likely course of action. All these potential strategies would be intended to encourage more lending, among other goals, and thereby increase growth. The Fed might also raise its medium-term target for inflation, which would discourage banks, businesses and consumers from sitting on their cash, and so induce them to spend more. But beyond such potential options, the announcement of a clear monetary policy road map seems unlikely. Fed speeches are constructed to cause minimal market excitement -- either good or bad -- and there are reasons to think Mr. Bernanke's speech may be especially noncommittal.

Maybe things aren't that bad: Congressional Budget Office expects the economy will grow at a moderate pace through 2013 and the jobless rate will stay above 8 percent. Also, the deficit will fall slightly this year, though still very high. (MarketWatch)

California's mishandling of leases: The state has failed to renew expired leases, keep rents at market level, and evict delinquent tenants, according to a state audit. The cost to taxpayers could easily be in the tens of millions of dollars. (LAT)

Big drop in state business formation: California has fallen to dead last in the number of new businesses created, according to a study. Actually, more than 4,600 businesses were lost in 2010. From 2001 to 2009, the state ranked either first or second in the nation. (LAT)

Don't spend it in one place: Pay raises next year are expected to average 2.8 percent, according to Towers Watson, which is a hefty .5 percent increase from this year. Inflation is running well over 3 percent. (OC Register)

Yet another outlet for Hollywood news: Meet ENTV, which will produce one and two minutes segments on several platforms, including ION Television, and screens inside elevators and taxi cabs. PMC, the digital-media company owned by entrepreneur Jay Penske, is behind the venture. (WSJ)

More by Mark Lacter:
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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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