Friday morning headlines

Mixed market: It's a battle of solid earnings versus lukewarm first-quarter growth. So far, earnings have the edge - the Dow is up about 30 points.

Economy slows: The nation's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent for the January-March quarter, down from 3 percent for the previous three months and slightly lower than expected.. From the NYT:

The economy has been growing, though painfully slowly, since the second half of 2009, and the recovery accelerated throughout all of 2011. Early this year, economists forecast a weaker showing for the first quarter, and many revised their numbers upward in the past few weeks as several economic indicators came in better than expected. Still, mixed signals continue to cloud the picture, raising fears among some economists of a repeat of last year's spring slowdown: shipments of durable goods increased last month, but new orders showed their steepest drop since January 2009 (mostly because of a decline in aircraft orders); the trade balance improved but job growth weakened and new unemployment claims have risen.

Little change in consumer sentiment: Americans expect the economy to slowly improve, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's survey. April's number topped economists' forecasts. (Reuters)

Gas prices keep falling: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.191, according to the Auto Club, down three cents from a week ago and 17 cents from a month ago.

Health care rebates: Consumers and employers will receive $1.3 billion from insurance companies as part of a provision in the federal health care law. From the LAT:

Obama's healthcare law requires insurers to spend a minimum portion of customers' premiums on medical care. The provision was championed by consumer groups concerned that companies were hiking premiums to pay for executive salaries, shareholder dividends and other expenses unrelated to their customers' care. Starting last year, if insurers fail to meet these targets, known as medical loss ratios, they are required to pay rebates the following year. In some cases, the rebates will go only to employers, which may pass them on to employees as rebate checks.

Huge payday for Lehman executives: Nearly $700 million was awarded to 50 high-paid employees less than a year before the Wall Street firm collapsed in 2008, the LAT reports. It's not known how much of that compensation was cashed out before Lehman's bankruptcy.

Lehman's richest pay package in 2007 went to Robert Millard, who was in line to make $51.3 million running a group that invested the firm's own cash, according to the documents. That topped the $40 million pledged to Lehman Chief Executive Richard Fuld. Millard's pay package in 2005 was $3.8 million before catapulting 1,084% to $44.5 million the following year, according to the documents. Now running a hedge fund, Millard said he was never fully paid in 2006 and 2007. He said more than half of the compensation came in the form of stock, which was rendered worthless by the bankruptcy.

More by Mark Lacter:
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Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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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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