Monday morning headlines

Stocks still gaining ground: Last week's big rally is carrying over, with the Dow up 75 points.

Legislature returns to work: State lawmakers have a lot on their agenda, from pension reform to gun control. From the LAT:

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed an overhaul of the state's overburdened public pension system months ago, but the Legislature has not acted on it. However, opinion polls suggest many voters want to see that the state's fiscal house is being put in order before they'll approve the billions of dollars in tax hikes that Brown's supporters put on the November ballot. "Pension reform would probably improve the chance for the tax measure, but the question is whether they can do what is necessary in the short amount of time available," said John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.

Companies putting on brakes: New hires and investments are being put off because of concerns about a fiscal impasse in Washington later this year. From the NYT:

Hubbell, a maker of electrical products, has canceled several million dollars' worth of equipment orders and delayed long-planned factory upgrades in the last few months, said Timothy H. Powers, the company's chief executive. It has also held off hiring workers for about 100 positions that would otherwise have been filled, he said. "The fiscal cliff is the primary driver of uncertainty, and a person in my position is going to make a decision to postpone hiring and investments," Mr. Powers said. "We can see it in our order patterns, and customers are delaying. We don't have to get to the edge of the cliff before the damage is done."

So much for S&P downgrade: A year after the U.S. lost its AAA rating, global investors can't get enough American securities. From Bloomberg:

"We're seeing negative data come in from a lot of parts of the world," said Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. "The rest of the world is looking at the United States and saying, 'I wish we were the United States.'" With the largest economy and deepest financial markets, the U.S. is seen as the safe haven for investors at a time when Europe is struggling to contain its sovereign-debt crisis and Chinese growth is slowing.

New direction for Register: Aaron Kushner, whose investment group bought the OC daily and several other papers in the Freedom chain, has been named publisher and wants to focus on print subscribers. From the Register:

The path to that success is clear to him: Focus on subscribers. Give them more pages, more in-depth reporting, more rich storytelling and more news they can't get anywhere else and they will come. And, more importantly, he thinks they will pay for it. It is an idea that may seem farfetched in this day of shrinking newspaper budgets and free everything on the Internet. Kushner argues, however, that getting subscribers to pay for the people and work that go into creating the news is the industry's best chance for survival.

Best Buy founder offers to buy company: Richard Schulze wants to take the electronics retailer private by buying up all of its shares he doesn't already own. The news sent Best Buy shares up 18 percent. (AP)

"Dark Knight" still on top: The latest Batman adventure scored $36.4 million in its third weekend of release - and a total of $355 million to date. In second place this weekend was the remake of "Total Recall." (AP)

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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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