Thursday morning headlines

Stocks keep drifting: Mixed bag of earnings in what's been an uneventful week. Dow is up about 30 points.

Facebook stock takes another hit: This is the first day that company insiders can sell shares, and many are doing just that. The stock is down more than 6 percent, to under $20. (CNNMoney)

Jobless claims inch higher: Weekly filings for unemployment benefits were up 2,000 to 366,000. Applications have been trending lower in recent weeks. (AP)

Mixed bag at Walmart: The retail giant, which is viewed as an economic bellwether, reported a 5.7 percent increase in second-quarter net income, but revenue came in short of expectations. From the WSJ:

Wal-Mart has seen its results challenged of late as its core lower-income customers in the U.S. contend with high gasoline prices and persistently high unemployment levels. Chief Executive Mike Duke said the paycheck cycle--customers living paycheck-to-paycheck--"remains pronounced" in the U.S. and international markets. There are "continuing economic pressures," Mr. Duke said.

Gas update: L.A. area prices were basically unchanged overnight, with an average gallon of regular at $4.115, according to the Auto Club. There's upward pressure not just because of last week's big refinery fire, but because overall oil prices have been edging higher.

July container traffic slows: The Port of Los Angeles posted a 5.5 percent increase, while the Port of Long Beach was down 8.9 percent. July is when shipments start coming in for the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

County's new homeless plan: The focus will be on the chronically homeless because they account for so much in public services - and expenses. From the LAT:

The shift to target the chronically homeless means more resources will go to people who have lived on the streets for at least a year and suffer from a serious physical, mental or substance abuse problem. But some emergency housing providers complain that there will be less money to assist families, youths and others who may need only temporary shelter. "My concern is by focusing all the resources on the few, we are leaving the many out in the cold," said the Rev. Andy Bales, who heads the Union Rescue Mission on L.A.'s skid row.

California debt sale: Investors looking for a decent yield are snapping up the state's $10 billion offering. These are short-term notes with yields in the 0.30 percent to 0.55 percent range. From the WSJ:

California's notes should be popular with institutional investors as well, market participants said. Since the notes received top-tier short-term ratings, they are likely to appeal to a wide variety of buyers, including money-market funds, which can buy only higher-quality debt. An added appeal of the offering is related to its large size: The deal's girth provides greater post-offering liquidity that allows institutional investors to buy and later trade the notes in large blocks, without significant price disruptions.

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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