Wednesday morning headlines

Stocks bouncing around: After a sluggish opening the Dow is up about 70 points. Maybe it's good news from Greece? Or maybe it's a possible bond-buying program by the Fed?

Fed considering bond-buying program: The idea is to print new money to purchase long-term mortgage or Treasury bonds without stirring up inflation worries. From the WSJ:

The Fed's approach to a bond buying program matters a lot to many investors. More money printing could push commodities and stock prices higher, or send the dollar lower, if it sparks a perception among investors that inflation is moving higher, said Michael Feroli, an economist with J.P Morgan Chase. However, if the Fed chooses a course aimed at restraining inflation expectations, the impact on those markets might be more muted.

Nice pickup in private employment: February saw a gain of 216,000 payroll jobs, according to ADP, which was a bit more than expected. Many of the added jobs came from small business. The government's employment report comes out Friday morning. (Reuters)

Gas update: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area has been hovering around the $4.37 mark for several days, according to the Auto Club. Oil prices are down to about $105 a barrel.

Young workers taking hit on pay: Average inflation-adjusted hourly wages for male college graduates aged 23 to 29 fell 11 percent over the past decade, to $21.68. Female college graduates saw average wages drop 7.6 percent, to $18.80. From the WSJ:

"New college graduates have been losing ground for 10 years," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the institute, which derived the figures from regular government wage surveys. The drop in average wages for young adults is in contrast to U.S. government figures showing that average inflation-adjusted hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers of all ages and education levels are up 3% from a decade ago.

Apple announces new iPad: The 4G-equipped tablet will be faster and better equipped than earlier models. From AP:

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst for Forrester Research, said hardware features aren't that important to tablet buyers. "It's about the services - what you can do with the device," she said in a blog post. Apple's competitors have slowly come to realize this, but only after bringing out dozens of tablets with whiz-bang features like 3-D cameras. The competitor that's done the best is Inc. Its Kindle Fire tablet is cheaper than the iPad, but what really sets it apart is that it's tied into Amazon's book, movie and music stores, making it an easy route to entertainment, just like the iPad.

New budget woes for L.A.: A few hundred layoffs could be looming if the city offers raises to 20,000 workers in July. From the LAT:

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana sent a letter to members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions calling for the reopening of contract talks, saying negotiations will be needed to confront a $220 million budget shortfall that looms in the fiscal year starting July 1. In his letter, Santana said raises for the coalition's members will cost the city $105 million over the next two years. And he warned that there could be dire consequences if the raises are awarded.

Big jump in drug prices: The increase between 2005 and 2009 was nearly 26 percent - almost twice the rate of inflation, according to an AARP report. And they covered many of the drugs used by older people. From the NYT:

The AARP report, which examined the retail prices of the 514 brand name and generic drugs most widely used by Medicare recipients, said that the price of generic drugs fell by nearly 31 percent from 2005 to 2009. But at the same time that brand-name drug prices grew by nearly 41 percent and specialty drugs rose more than 48 percent. The rate of inflation, by contrast, grew by just over 13 percent over the same period.

Borrowing costs for bullet train revised upward: The state will be shelling out more than $700 million each year in repayment costs for the first phase of the proposed service, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office. (AP)

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

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

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
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook