Stocks back over 13,000: Nasdaq is really taking off this morning on the strong Apple earnings. Dow is up 70 points.
Any hints from the Fed?: The central bank's two-day meeting ends later this morning. Little change in policy is expected, but there might be some new assessments of the economy. (Reuters).
Britain slips back into recession: Negative growth for two consecutive quarters as the government's austerity program is being called into question. From the NYT:
The G.D.P. numbers caused bewilderment among some economists, including Andrew Goodwin of Ernst & Young's economic forecasting unit, the ITEM Club. "Our reaction to these figures is one of disbelief," Mr. Goodwin said. "I would be very surprised if these figures were not revised upwards." A return to a recession gave new ammunition to the opposition Labor Party, which has accused the government of hampering an economic recovery by cutting spending too deeply without offering enough economic stimulus.
Murdoch plays down political muscle: The News Corp. chief denied accusations that his newspapers tried to cut deals with government officials. He also called critics of tabloids "elitist" and dismissed phone hacking as "a lazy way" for reporters to do their jobs. (LAT)
Walmart steps up damage control: In the wake of the Mexican bribery scandal, the retailer has created a position of global compliance officer and added protocols to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are examined. From the WSJ:
Wal-Mart said it notified the U.S. and Mexican governments about the allegations late last year, and began an internal investigation. It said it is cooperating with U.S. federal authorities, who are now involved in ensuring that the company conducts a thorough probe with help from outside experts, and are examining the allegations for potential criminal prosecution, a person familiar with the matter said.
Hollywood bribes in China?: The SEC is investigating whether the big studios made illegal payments to gain the right to film and show movies in the country. From the NYT:
Hollywood has been trying to get more films into the Chinese market for decades, but efforts have picked up in recent years in large part because China has identified cinema as a growth priority. China is racing to build more modern theaters to entertain an expanding, cinema-loving middle class. The country is also escalating local film production, partly as a way to spread its culture across the globe. In February, Xi Jinping, China's vice president and likely future leader, visited politicians in Washington and movie executives in Hollywood. Soon after, China raised the number of foreign-produced films that can be shown there each year and increased the portion of box-office revenue from China that the movie studios get to keep.
AIG sues L.A. billionaire: Steven Udvar-Hazy is accused of stealing trade secrets when he and other executives left the company in 2010 and started Air Lease Corp. AIG seeks to recover "several hundreds of millions" of dollars, according to the complaint, filed in Superior Court. (Bloomberg)
Amgen to buy Turkish drug maker: The deal for privately held Mustafa Nevzat Pharmaceuticals, a maker of injectable generic drugs, is priced at $700 million. Sales of pharmaceuticals are growing faster in emerging markets than in Europe and the U.S. (Reuters)
Smog still bad: The L.A. area remains among the most polluted places in the nation, according to the American Lung Association, but air quality is showing improvement. From the OC Register:
Despite its bad marks, the larger Los Angeles region as defined in the report had the fewest unhealthy ozone days in the 13 years that the reports have been compiled. The region also improved its numbers in the year-round particle category, though the regional picture got worse for short-term particles.
City National Bank acquiring wealth management firm: Rochdale Investment Management handles nearly $5 billion for high net worth investors. (LAT)