Thursday morning headlines

Stocks stay down: Market seeking direction this morning amid a mishmash of earnings and economic news. Dow is down 15 points.

Big drop in jobless claims: After a month of or more elevated numbers, filings plunged 27,000 to 365,000 - a good but confusing sign of what's happening in the labor market. The government releases its April employment report Friday morning. (AP)

Gas prices edging higher: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.196, according to the Auto Club, up a penny from Wednesday. Up until earlier this week, L.A. prices had been steadily falling for more than a month.

Soft month for retailers:. Costco, Macy's and Target were below sales expectations for April. Could have been cooler weather or renewed concerns about the economy. From AP:

The disappointing results follow strong gains in the previous month that were boosted by a combination of warmer weather and optimism amid a flurry of positive economic news. "Early results show there was a sequential slowdown from a particularly strong February and March," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics LLC, a research firm. "Weather cooled and consumer took a bit of a breather. But spending is still decent."

Jobless rate under 8% by November?: Economists surveyed by the AP expect the unemployment rate to be 7.9 percent, up from March's 8.2 percent. They also see growth of 2.5 percent this year, up from 1.7 percent in 2011.

GM earnings beat forecasts: That's the good news. The not-so-good is that a loss in Europe and a one-time charge contributed to a 69 percent decline in total earnings. (NYT)

Eli Broad looking at LAT again?: The L.A. billionaire says he would like to "partner with others ... maybe foundations or wealthy families" to buy the paper. In his new book, Broad speculates that parent company Tribune Co. will put the Times up for sale and that "the price should be better and the advantages of local ownership clear to all." (LAT)

Herbalife CEO highest paid in 2011: Michael Johnson's compensation totaled $89.4 million - much of that from exercising 1.8 million stock options at the L.A.-based direct marketing company. (The Guardian)

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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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