Friday morning headlines

Dow hovering around 13,000: Is the market peaking out? Blue chip index is up about 12 points.

Consumer sentiment edges higher: The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's index came in at 75.3, up from 75.0 the month before, and the highest level since February 2011. Sentiment is bound to start slipping, however, because of higher gas prices. (Reuters)

Sour results at J.C. Penney: Sales during the holiday quarter fell 1.8 percent from a year earlier, and the company reported a loss of $87 million. Penney has announced a new strategy that eliminates short-term sales in favor of more consistent prices. (Reuters)

Dismantling Sears?: The struggling retail giant is aiming to sell its Hometown and Outlet stores - a move that could raise as much as $500 million. (NYT)

Redistricting plan gets through: But members of the Redistricting Commission are not happy with the finished map, which will be considered by the 15-member City Council next month. From the LAT:

Commissioner Jose Cornejo, who may run for City Council in one of the districts he helped create, called the proposed district lines -- and the process used to create them -- "ugly." Commissioner Rob Kadota, who also backed the map, said the commission failed to demonstrate equal concern for all parts of the city. And Commissioner David Roberti, a former state senator well versed in power politics, said he felt badly about rejecting demands of hundreds of Korean Americans who called for the area covered by Koreatown's neighborhood council to be unified in a single council district.

Assessor's aide resigned in protest: Dave Zoraster had been pulled off two cases in which he opposed massive tax breaks sought by a businessman who supported John Noguez's 2010 campaign for the office. From the LAT:

The owner of the properties had hired tax agent Ramin Salari, a Noguez campaign fundraiser at the center of a county district attorney inquiry into allegations of special favors granted by Noguez. The reductions sought by Salari, which are still pending, would save the owners an estimated $875,000 on their annual property tax bills. Salari typically charges clients half of any savings he wins. "I quit because of Mr. Salari's influence with the assessor and with some of his senior staff members," Zoraster said of his December departure.

TMZ moving closer to beach? The celebrity news site is in final negotiations on a long-term office lease at a former post office distribution center near Marina del Rey. (THR)

Sit 'n Sleep wants veterans: The mattress retailer is looking to fill at least 50 positions with folks who have been in the military. It's one of more than three dozen companies working with the California Department of Veterans Affairs. (Daily News)

Postal processing center to close: Barring Congressional intervention, the Long Beach facility will be shut down sometime after May 15. Operations will be folded into the Postal Service's L.A. center. (Press-Telegram)

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?
Recent Economy stories:
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Exit interview with Port of L.A.'s executive director
L.A. developers relying on foreign investors bend a few rules
Holiday shopping: On your marks, get set... spend!

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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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