Tuesday morning headlines

Stocks open higher: Strong reading on manufacturing and another solid month for auto sales. Dow is up 75 points.

Good month for Chrysler: April sales were up 20 percent, the 25th-straight month of year-over-year sales gains. But Ford reported a 5 percent drop. Results from the other carmakers are due out later today. (AP)

May Day protests: More than a dozen street and intersection closures are expected. Also, look out for a planned protest outside LAX. (LAT)

British panel blasts Murdoch: The News Corp. CEO is "not a fit person" to run a huge international company, according to the final report of a UK parliamentary committee looking into the company's phone hacking scandal. From the NYT:

The startling conclusion about the world's most influential media tycoon went much further in criticizing Mr. Murdoch than had been expected from Parliament's select committee on culture, media and sport, which has conducted several inquiries into press standards, the most recent starting last year. But the impact of the report by the all-party committee was blunted by divisions within the panel itself. The committee said it had split, 6 to 4 ,on party lines in the assessment of Mr. Murdoch, with the dominant Conservatives opposing the criticism while the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner in Prime Minister David Cameron's government, and the Labor opposition supporting it.

Dodger sale not a done deal: But it's expected to be today, reports the LAT's Bill Shaikin. The delay involves the approval of documents that had not been cleared by the court-appointed mediator supervising the sale.

McCourt did meet a Monday deadline to pay a $131-million divorce settlement to his ex-wife, Jamie, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to comment, eliminating the possibility that she could intervene in the sale process. Frank McCourt, who agreed to sell the Dodgers for a record $2.15 billion, could clear close to $1 billion in net profit. However, according to the divorce settlement, Jamie McCourt need not pay taxes on the $131 million and Frank McCourt cannot deduct the amount from his taxes.

Gas prices inch higher: It's slight, but it's the first overnight increase I've seen in the last few weeks. An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.181, according to the Auto Club, one-tenth of a penny higher than on Monday.

Calpers takes aim at Vernon: The city improperly boosted the benefits of nearly two dozen employees, according to findings by the California pension fund. The pensions of some city officials are expected to be cut. (LAT)

More new bank branches in wealthier areas: Affluent neighborhoods have seen an 8.4 percent increase in the number of banks and thrift offices since 2006, according to a study. Lower-income areas saw a 1 percent decline. From the LAT:

"We are very concerned that regular folks who may not happen to have a lot of money are being pushed methodically out of mainstream banking," said Alan Fisher, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition in San Francisco. "The regulators allowed subprime and expensive credit card lending, and now they are standing by while the financial divide widens through the methodical efforts of the big banks to serve the wealthy and exclude those who are not," Fisher said.

Dick Clark Productions wins suit: A federal judge ruled that the production company had the right to license the Golden Globes show to NBC. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had been challenging the license agreement. (Bloomberg)

New funding for the Sahara: L.A. night club impresario Sam Nazarian and his partners have secured a $300 million loan to revamp the casino and hotel on the Vegas Strip. It's the first big construction loan for Las Vegas in years. From the WSJ:

That loan provides much of the funding Mr. Nazarian's SBE Entertainment Group and Stockbridge Real Estate Funds will need to start construction on redeveloping the 1,700-room Sahara, which was closed last year as room rates there sank as low as $26 a night. They hope to reopen the casino in 2014 as a swanky casino hotel branded SLS, Mr. Nazarian says.

Union proposal to avoid city layoffs: The plan includes voluntary subscription fees to pay for ambulance service and the collection of unpaid foreclosure fees owed by banks. From the Daily News:

In past budget years, layoffs have been avoided by shuffling around employees, finding new sources of funding to pay for staff and reaching concessions with unions. This year the unions refused to reopen their contracts. They made concessions last year, including paying more for their retirement benefits and delaying pay raises that are now scheduled to go into effect later this year. "We think there are other options the council should explore," [said Cheryl Parisi, head of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions].

Personal income tax revenue falls short: April receipts were running about $2 billion behind projections. That could signal a higher-than-expected budget deficit. (California Capitol Network)

Rail car contract awarded to Japanese firm: MTA officials went with Kinkisharyo International in a $890 million deal. The new cars will be used for the Crenshaw Line,Expo Line, and extensions of the Gold Line. Labor unions opposed the Kinkisharyo bid. (LAT)

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?
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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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