Thursday morning headlines

Stocks inch higher: Sluggish start to the session, despite good economic news. Dow is up about 10 points.

Treasury yields moving up: The benchmark 10-year note was down 4/32, with the yield at 2.2866 percent. It's the seventh straight day Treasuries have dropped, the longest stretch since 2006. (Bloomberg)

Jobless claims drop: Weekly filings fell 14,000, to 351,000, matching a a four-year low. That's low enough to signal job growth. (AP)

Gas, oil update: No real change from yesterday - an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.399, up a tenth of a cent from Wednesday and two cents from a week ago, according to the Auto Club. Oil is hovering around $106 a barrel.

Dip in California foreclosures: Filings fell 13 percent in February, compared with a year earlier - a 51-month low, according to RealtyTrac. In the L.A. area the drop was 18 percent. (LAT)

On Brown's tax capitulation: . Another example of the governor's penchant for political acrobatics, writes LAT columnist George Skelton:

The reshaped proposal is bound to be more popular with the electorate than Brown's original. A larger share of the tax load would be shifted to fewer voters. But it's poor public policy. Although it may be satisfying for the majority, smacking the rich worsens a California tax system that badly needs to be overhauled. The top 1% already pay roughly 40% of the state income tax. This results in an extremely volatile revenue roller-coaster. In boom times, the rich prosper and pour money into the state vault. During periods of bust, their capital gains dwindle and so does the state's revenue stream. The state suffers budget deficits. Schools, universities and the poor people's safety net are slashed.

Calpers approves rate reduction: The pension fund's investment forecast will have a 7.5 percent rate of return, down from 7.75 percent, a move that will require the state of California, school districts, and local governments to increase pension contributions. (AP)

Freedom up for sale?: The parent company of the OC Register is being shopped around, reports the WSJ, but it's unclear how many of chain's 24 papers would be sold, including the Register.

Since Freedom emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2010, the hedge funds that control the company have been trying to auction off its assets. Freedom last month sold its two New Mexico daily papers, the News Journal in Clovis and the Portales News-Tribune, to Clovis Media Inc. A few months ago, Freedom agreed to sell its eight TV stations to Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. for $385 million. Freedom was in talks last year to sell all of its more than 100 daily and weekly newspapers to Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group Inc. for around $350 million, but the deal got derailed because MediaNews had difficulty obtaining financing.

Downtown development pared down?: Korean Air might put up just a single hotel/office tower instead of its original plan for a separate hotel and office building, reports the Downtown News. Also, developer Thomas Properties is out and Martin Project Management is in.

The Downtown office vacancy rate was 18.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a report from Cushman & Wakefield. As a rule of thumb, office experts say that vacancy must sink below 10% to justify new high-rise construction. With the office market still slumping, Korean Air is now looking to downsize the office component in favor of more hotel rooms, a decision aided by the currently hot Downtown hotel market. "We don't want to have a construction site that waits for 10 years while you do hotel, then later office," [Chris] Martin said. "We have every intention of doing this as a single-phase project."

California lawmakers highest paid: Base salary for legislators is $95,291, topping second-place New York by about $15,000. (LAT)

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 California stories:
Volcanic cinder in Owens Valley
Holiday shopping: On your marks, get set... spend!
14 California bookstores in nine days
Uproar over health care sites could be settling down
BART strike to end Tuesday in the Bay Area

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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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