Stocks open lower: Dow is down about 100 points amid signs that the market may have peaked out for a while.
Incomes up, spending flat: Consumers were careful with their shopping in December as spending rose only 0.1 percent. For all of 2011, the gain was 4.7 percent, the largest increase since 2007. Incomes, meanwhile, grew at an annual rate of 2 percent in the fourth quarter. (Reuters)
Pep Boys bought by L.A. investment firm: The Gores Group, which is headed by billionaire Alec Gores, is acquiring the auto parts chain for $791 million. Pep Boys has more than 700 locations. (AP)
Kirk Kerkorian on the hunt: The 94-year-old Bev Hills billionaire has recently brought on the former COO of MGM to search out entertainment properties. From the WSJ:
[Jay Rakow, an executive at Mr. Kerkorian's investment vehicle, Tracinda Corp.,] declined to say what companies his boss was eyeing but said Mr. Kerkorian sees opportunities in new forms of online distribution of films, and in emerging markets including China, India and Latin America. Mr. Kerkorian might buy a single entity or roll up several smaller ones, Mr. Rakow said. He doesn't have a particular dollar figure or timetable in mind for his investment, Mr. Rakow said. "We are casting a wide net," Mr. Rakow said.
Dodger update: Mark Cuban is out of the bidding, while L.A. billionaire Tom Barrack has joined up with investor Leo Hindery, the LAT reports. At least eight groups remain in the running.
Has $1.2 billion disappeared?: Officials poring over the finances of MF Global Holdings increasingly believe that much of the customer money might never be recovered, the WSJ reports:
As the sprawling probe that includes regulators, criminal and congressional investigators, and court-appointed trustees grinds on, the findings so far suggest that a "significant amount" of the money could have "vaporized" as a result of chaotic trading at MF Global during the week before the company's Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing, said a person close to the investigation. Many officials now believe certain employees at MF Global dipped into the "customer segregated account" that the New York company was supposed to keep separate from its own assets--and then used the money to meet demands for more collateral or to unfreeze assets at banks and other counterparties as they grew more concerned about their financial exposure to MF Global.
Brown dispute cost estimates for high-speed rail: The governor said the project will not run as much as $100 billion, and that cap-and-trade fees will be among the sources of funding. (Capitol Alert)