Thursday morning headlines

Stocks pulling back: Dow opened higher, perhaps helped by some decent economic news, but now the blue-chip index is down a few points.

Jobless claims dip by 12,000: But weekly filings are stuck above 400,000, which remains too high for any serious uptick in employment growth. (AP)

Solid August for retailers: Consumer confidence may have fallen last month, but the chain stores did pretty well. From AP:

As merchants reported their sales results Thursday, Target Corp., Limited Brands Inc., and teen retailer Wet Seal Inc. posted sales gains that beat Wall Street expectations. But there were several stragglers. Gap Inc., which has been struggling with a sales malaise, posted a bigger-than-expected drop. Kohl's Corp., and J.C. Penney Co. reported unexpected declines.

Manufacturing slows in August: But the Institute for Supply Management's index was a bit better than analysts had expected and still shows growth. (Reuters)

Amazon offering state jobs: Company says it will build distribution centers and hire more than 1,000 people if lawmakers back off from an effort to collect sales taxes on purchases made by customers in the state. From the LAT:

Backers of California's effort to collect about $300 million a year in unpaid taxes on Internet sales dismissed the Amazon compromise as a ploy. "It's a totally cynical maneuver that's part of their game that they try to play in every state that keeps them from getting the sales tax," said Lenny Goldberg, a legislative advocate for the California Tax Reform Assn.

B of A puts Countrywide unit on the block: The bank's correspondent mortgage business fulfills mortgage loans originated by other banks. A sale would affect about 1,400 people, about half of them in Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks. (McClatchy)

Gundlach called "unstable" and "a disease": Latest snippets of testimony against the superstar bond manager, who is battling in court with former employer TCW over his firing. From the LAT:

Jurors on Wednesday saw a video deposition given by the 67-year-old Robert Day, who founded TCW in 1971. Under questioning by Gundlach's attorneys, Day testified that he knew Gundlach wasn't happy about Day's choice to bring Stern back as head of the firm in June 2009. "I think he thought he should be CEO," Day said. Day testified that Stern wanted to work out "something [Gundlach would] be happy with." But that was "very difficult when someone's being that unstable," Day said. Asked by Gundlach's attorneys whether he could name "a single thing" that was done to reach a deal with the fund manager, Day said: "I just don't remember."

Villaraigosa keeps talking: Speaking before the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, he calls for reforms to government regulations, corporate taxation, and the California Environmental Quality Act. (Daily News)

Krikorian worries about convention losses: The L.A. City Councilman wants to know what's being done to avoid more cancellations due to the planned construction on an upgraded convention center. Already one organization has relocated its 2014 gathering. (AP)

American Film Market considers move downtown: The group's annual conclave has been at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel since 1991, but Loews wants more money, according to THR.

Sources tell THR that Anschutz Entertainment Group, which manages the L.A. Live complex, has stepped in with an offer at a much lower cost than the Loews bid. Loews is said to have made a counteroffer earlier this week to try and retain the nearly two-week-long event, which each fall attracts more than 8,000 people involved in the independent production and distribution of movies from over 70 countries. IFTA estimates more than $800 million in transactions are done at the market on both competed films and pre-sales of movies in development.

Tribune Co. pushing for management bonuses: The parent of the LAT, still in bankruptcy, wants to be able to pay 640 employees up to $42.5 million, despite the company's declining performance. A bankruptcy judge must approve the bonuses. (Chicago Tribune)

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*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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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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