Stocks edge lower: Another sluggish opening as investors assess the market's direction. Dow is down about 20 points.
Tentative deal on payroll tax extension: Also covered in the agreement are the extension of unemployment benefits and help for doctors who accept Medicare. From the NYT:
Democrats, elated after winning the Republican tax concession after months of clashes, said they had also been able to beat back new conditions that Republicans had wanted on jobless pay, like requiring beneficiaries to seek high school equivalency degrees, and had found middle ground on Republican attempts to significantly reduce the number of weeks in which the unemployed could draw benefits. Republicans did make Democrats pay for the added unemployment benefits through changes to federal pensions, aides said.
Modest growth forecast: L.A. County's recovery is expected to come at "a painfully slow pace," according to the Economic Development Corporation, taking years to make up the 300,000 jobs lost since the start of the recession. The forecast expects county growth of just 0.6 percent. (LAT)
Streaming local TV: Barry Diller has introduced a service called Aereo, which will provide programming of the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) to phones, tablets and Internet-connected TVs. Aereo will be launched in NY and is expected to cost $12 a month. From the NYT:
Whether it succeeds or not, Aereo -- and the technology world's interest in it -- is a testament to the intense pressure on traditional TV companies to innovate or risk being left behind. Station owners and cable distributors have talked at length about how to let viewers watch on smartphones, for instance, but have struggled to adopt it. With Aereo, viewers can start watching a broadcast baseball game at home, continue watching on a smartphone, and pause or rewind the game.
Lexus tops in dependability: The Japanese brand took the top spot from Lincoln, according to to the latest J.D. Power survey, based on the polling of the owners of 2009 model-year vehicles. From the Detroit News:
Over the past several years, models from Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Lincoln and Hyundai have scored well for dependability, but consumers still express concerns about their dependability, according to the research firm. "Negative quality perceptions are notoriously difficult to change, and it takes considerable time, but effectively communicating improvements in dependability may reduce concerns, and by extension, help new-vehicle sales," David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, said in statement.
Airline flights hit 10-year low: Just 6.08 million departures last year, according to the Transportation Department, as the weak economy and airline mergers take their toll. (Reuters)