Stocks move lower: The fairly weak jobs report is taking its toll. Dow is down about 130 points.
Muted reaction: Nobody is cheering the addition of just 115,000 jobs, but April's report isn't seen as a total disaster either. From Bloomberg:
The last two months may reflect a weather-related payback. Hiring probably eased following warmer-than-usual weather that pulled forward some workforce additions into the early months of the year. "The weather was mild in January and February, and it's very possible that hiring was pulled forward," said Christophe Barraud, an economist and strategist at Market Securities Paris LLP, who correctly forecast the payrolls figure. "This report is not good, but we have to wait for the next one to see if the real trend is actually decelerating."
Gas prices inching back up: California inventories are low and that could be contributing to a small increase in prices, according to the Auto Club. Prices have risen almost two cents from Thursday, with an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area at $4.214. Meanwhile, oil prices fell below $100 a barrel.
More questions for L.A. Assessor's office: Why did property on Sunset Boulevard sell for $21 million, despite county assessors placing the value at $7.2 million? The previous owners bought the land for $14 million, but consultant Ramin Salari, who is also a campaign fundraiser for county Assessor John Noguez, said it wasn't worth that much. From the LAT:
As news of the refund and subsequent sale spread among rank-and-file county appraisers, some in the office saw it as confirmation of a growing suspicion that Noguez and his top aides were ignoring their duty to assess fair market values. Instead, the appraisers feared, Noguez was inappropriately lowering values to give tax breaks to Salari and other campaign contributors.
Health Net cuts forecast: Shares of the Woodland Hills-based insurer plunged the most in 20 years after the company said 2012 earnings would be lower than forecast due to a change in claims processing. From Bloomberg:
A change in regulations covering claims processing led to a delay in medical bills reaching Health Net last year. As a result, the company put aside an additional $67 million in the first quarter and increased its assumptions for medical costs in the rest of the year, Health Net said today in a statement. "It very well could be a one-time issue and the company can maybe get back off to the races," Chris Rigg, a Susquehanna Financial Group analyst in New York, said in a telephone interview. "But at this point, there's a credibility issue. That's what the market is telling you."
Huffington's role at AOL is downsized: She will focus only on the Huffington Post rather than all of AOL's editorial properties. Huffington's involvement in other news sites had created friction. From the WSJ:
Ms. Huffington said Thursday that she had been approached by private-equity firms interested in buying the Huffington Post, although the overtures went nowhere. She said she had no intention of leaving. Her relationship with Mr. Armstrong is fine, and "all is good," she said. The change in Ms. Huffington's role comes as AOL is facing a proxy battle with activist shareholder Starboard Value LP, which has criticized Mr. Armstrong's strategy of investing heavily in online content.
Licensing Fred Segal name: A NY media firm will put the the red, white and blue logo on merchandise. The deal will not include the two Fred Segal stores. (LAT)