Friday morning headlines

Stocks bouncing back: After opening lower, the market has turned around in the last 30 minutes or so. Dow is now up 30 points.

Investor confidence is up: I'm not sure this is good news, but Rasmussen's daily investor confidence index rose nine points Friday to its highest level since January 2008. Investor confidence is up 13 points from last week and 17 points from a month ago. (Business Insider)

Gas update: Another slight down-tick in prices, with an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area at $4.378, down about a half penny from Thursday and two cents from a week ago, according to the Auto Club. Oil has been hovering in the $105-$107 a barrel range.

B of A seeks foreclosure alternative: A test program in Arizona, Nevada and New York will allow mortgage customers to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners. From AP:

Participants will transfer their home's title to the bank, which will then forgive the outstanding mortgage debt. In exchange, they will be able to lease their home for up to three years at or below the rental market rate. The rent will be less than the participants' current mortgage payments and customers will not have to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance, the bank said.

Mixed results at KB Home: The L.A.-based homebuilder reported a narrower first-quarter loss, but orders fell 8 percent and the stock is trading sharply lower. (Bloomberg)

Council to consider Chinatown Walmart: The retail giants wants to open a store at Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues. But Councilman Ed Reyes proposes an ordinance that could effectively block the move. (ABC7)

L.A. is being unfair to Walmart: LAT editorial doesn't take kindly to the proposed ordinance:

Rather than presenting potential businesses with reliable rules and allowing those businesses to judge whether they can or will comply, every deal in the city is subject to negotiation. Sometimes that's necessary when a community confronts an unexpected threat to its character; more often, it offers opportunities for leverage. (Does anyone believe that the City Council would be balking if Apple had proposed a store for this site? Or that concessions are not the endgame here?)

Global box office on the rise: Revenue reached $32.6 billion in 2011, up 3 percent from a year earlier. From the LAT:

The rise in global ticket sales reflects the rapid growth in overseas markets, particularly in China, where the box office grew by a whopping 35% to $2 billion in 2011 alone, according to the MPAA. That tied China with France as the second-highest grossing foreign territory. Japan, at $2.3 billion, was first. China has been experiencing a multiplex-building boom as Hollywood studios and production companies sign deals to expand their presence in the world's most populous country, which recently took steps to ease its annual quota on the number of foreign movies it allows into the country.

Pot workers join union: The employees will be part of the United Food and Commercial workers, which also represents grocery workers and pharmacists. The union president said he would use the "full force" of his 35,000 members to keep dispensaries open. (LAT)

How L.A. could save $350 million: In a nutshell, better management, according to a volunteer commission appointed by the City Council. From the LAT:

The city has $541 million in outstanding bills and tickets, according to a separate report issued by the group last year. Much of that money cannot be collected because the two-year statute of limitations has passed. "The leadership of this city can no longer sit on these recommendations," said Cheryl Parisi, chairwoman of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 36, who also serves on the panel.

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 Downtown stories:
L.A.'s half-baked approach to quake readiness
A look around inside the Broad
LA to get denser and denser and denser
Some ideas to help Grand Park become the urban oasis we need
'Chinatown' screening in Union Station (photo)

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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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