Thursday morning headlines

Stocks on the rise: Encouraging economic news at home is deflecting worries about Greece. Dow is up 60 points.

Jobless claims at 4-year low: Weekly filings were down 13,000, to 348,000, the fourth drop in five weeks. That means fewer layoffs and more hiring. (AP)

State foreclosure activity drops: January's 23 percent decline from a year earlier is the result of fewer default notices, says RealtyTrac. In December and January they averaged fewer than 18,000 a month, compared with more than 28,000 per month from August through November.

Foreclosure flaws in SF: Audit of about 400 recent filings show all kinds of legal violations or suspicious documentation. From the NYT:

The detailed and comprehensive nature of the San Francisco findings suggest how pervasive foreclosure irregularities may be across the nation. The improprieties range from the basic -- a failure to warn borrowers that they were in default on their loans as required by law -- to the arcane. For example, transfers of many loans in the foreclosure files were made by entities that had no right to assign them and institutions took back properties in auctions even though they had not proved ownership.

Disappointing GM earnings: Fourth-quarter profits were below expectations (European operations took a toll), though the numbers for North America looked good. (Reuters)

Greek mishmash: Government officials say that the financial bailout is on track, disputing suggestions of a delay. But European officials want more control over how future aid is spent. From Bloomberg:

Greece's plea for more aid on top of the 110 billion euros awarded in 2010 has stirred recriminations on both sides of Europe's north-south economic divide, with taxpayers in better- off countries rebelling against further handouts. Each day lost brings Greece closer to a March 20 bond redemption when it must make a 14.5 billion-euro payment or become the first country in the euro's 13-year history to default.

DreamWorks Animation plans Shanghai production unit: Look for an announcement during this week's L.A. visit by China's presumptive next leader, Vice President Xi Jinping. From the WSJ:

The potential partnership, and Mr. Xi's visit, comes as U.S. trade officials are seeking to resolve a dispute over movies that has essentially been at a stalemate since 2009, when the World Trade Organization sided with the U.S. in ruling that China should open its market to foreign films. The ruling sought to lift a requirement that foreign movies be sold through a government-run monopoly, which allows only around 20 foreign movies a year to be distributed in China, with box-office revenue split between a state-owned distributor and the producer. Additional films may be exhibited under financial terms less favorable to foreign producers.

Xi to visit Port of L.A.: After arriving at LAX this afternoon, he'll tour the China Shipping terminal, which is undergoing a $121 million expansion that will more than double its space at the port. He'll also be at a trade forum on Friday. (CNS)

Mixed-use project in Santa Monica: The $350-million residential and retail development on a 3-acre site formerly owned by Rand Corp. has been in the works for more than six years. From the LAT:

"It's very difficult to finance condos right now," said Bill Witte, president of Related California, a subsidiary of Related. "The reason we were able to is because the financial community saw this correctly as a unique animal." The seaside location is the lure. Santa Monica has some of the most desirable real estate in the region and it is a challenge to get projects approved by local officials.

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
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