Stocks open higher: Alcoa had a weak fourth quarter, but its forecast for 2012 is pretty good. Plus, no bad news from Europe. Dow is up over 100 points.
Consumer credit back up: Is this where we came in? The increase in November was 10 percent, the biggest jump in a decade. From the WSJ:
Households have become more willing to take on debt after years of paring their borrowing, the Fed report suggested. For several months, borrowing for car loans and student loans has been on a modest upswing. The latest report showed households also are starting to add to their credit-card balances. Credit-card balances, which the Fed describes as "revolving" credit, increased to $798.3 billion in November, on a seasonally adjusted basis, rising at an 8.5% annual rate from the month before.
Gas prices keep climbing: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $3.778, according to the government survey, up almost 8 cents from the previous week. It was the third straight week of increases.
Health spending slows down: Growth increased only 3.9 percent in 2010, in part because Americans delayed hospital care, doctor's visits and prescription drug purchases. From the NYT:
In 2010, the study said, hospitals reported a decline in admissions and slower growth in emergency room visits and outpatient visits. Likewise, it said, doctor's office visits declined, and spending for doctors' services grew just 1.8 percent, to $416 billion in 2010. Total health spending averaged $8,402 a person, up 3.1 percent from 2009, the report said.
Tiffany sales weaken: U.S. stores open at least a year were up just 2 percent in November and December compared with 2010, though the numbers were much better in Asia. Analysts have wondered whether the recent strong quarters were sustainable. (AP)
Big payday for Jobs' successor: Apple CEO Tim Cook made $378 million last year, much of it from restricted stock. Steve Jobs, you might recall, gave himself a salary of $1 (though his Apple stock was worth a fortune). (All Things Digital)
Fresh & Easy to close 12 stores: The fledgling grocery chain says that the locations, in California, Arizona and Nevada, have been under-performing (they might reopen if business improves). At the same time, there are plans to open at least two dozen markets on the West Coast. (OC Register)
New allegations against ex-Coliseum managers: An amended lawsuit now claims that large cash payments were improperly made to a union representative as wages for stadium stagehands. (LAT)
Houlihan hires dealmaker: Steven Tishman will handle global mergers and acquisitions for the L.A.-based investment bank. Houlihan has been a smaller player in the M&A sector. (WSJ)