Stocks open higher: Investors seem to be shrugging off all the reasons not to buy stocks. Dow opens the month up about 130 points.
Disappointing payroll report: Only 170,000 private-sector jobs were added to the rolls last month, according to ADP, which is lower than expectations. Also, December's number was revised downward. The government's employment report for January comes out on Friday. (Reuters)
Big month for Chrysler: The once-struggling automaker reported a 44 percent jump in January sales compared with a year earlier. For the fourth quarter, Chrysler reported earnings of $225 million, the company's first profitable year since its government bailout and bankruptcy in 2009. (AP)
Ford up 7%, GM down 6%: January's sales drop at General Motors was due to strong numbers a year ago in connection with a discount effort. (NYT)
New housing initiative: The Obama administration wants to allow millions of additional homeowners to refinance even if they owe more than their homes are worth. From AP:
Obama on Wednesday was to draw attention to a proposal he outlined in his State of the Union address to allow homeowners with privately held mortgages to take advantage of record low rates, for an annual savings of about $3,000 for the average borrower. Obama was detailing his plan during a visit to a northern Virginia community center. The administration proposal faces a major hurdle in Congress. The program would cost between $5 billion and $10 billion, depending on participation, and would be paid for by a fee on large banks. The administration has tried unsuccessfully before to win support for such a tax on large banks.
Doubts about Facebook offering: Investors beware, says LAT columnist Mike Hiltzik:
There's been a lot of talk about whether, or how, Facebook will keep faith with its hundreds of millions of loyal users by letting them in on the IPO. Can we get real? The best way Facebook could protect its ordinary users is by not letting them anywhere near this IPO. For one thing, given the turbocharged excitement surrounding the coming deal, the likelihood is much greater that the shares will be fully valued than that they'll harbor hidden treasure. It won't be long before the holders of insider shares, including current and departed employees, will be able to cash out, diluting the market price further.
More Coliseum shenanigans: Officials were passing suitcases filled with cash to a union rep to cover the wages for Coliseum events. The feds are looking into the payments. From the LAT:
With no detailed accounting of what happened to the cash after it left the stadium, the Coliseum Commission does not know how much actually went to wages and whether required contributions were made to employee benefit plans. In addition, the stadium could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in back payroll and withholding taxes. It's as though the Coliseum was run "like an underground business," said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who studies government corruption. "This idea of cash in suitcases reads like a bad crime novel."
Beutner trails the pack: The business-focused candidate raised just $222,000 in a five-month period, well below that of his opponents. Beutner says he was more focused on connecting with voters than doing the "ask." (City Maven)
First Lady fundraiser has Hollywood cast: Quincy Jones, Harvey Weinstein and Berry Gordy were among those on hand last night in Bev Hills. Nearly $1 million was raised for President Obama's reelection effort. (THR)
Big cuts at American: Up to 15,000 jobs are expected to be eliminated company-wide, according to a Dallas TV station. American's parent company filed for bankruptcy late last year.