Slow-motion stocks After several losing sessions, the Dow is bouncing around the line. Volume-wise, it's been a slow week.
Growth revised upward: The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter, slightly higher than the initial estimate of 1.5 percent. From Reuters:
While the composition of economic activity was fairly favorable, growth remains well below the 2-2.5 percent rate required every quarter to hold the unemployment rate steady, which could compel policymakers at the U.S. central bank to offer additional stimulus at their September 12-13 meeting. "It shows slightly better government spending and consumer spending but overall the data suggest the economy stays in slow growth mode and is not likely to change," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. "This certainly strengthens the hands of the Fed to aid the economy."
Gas update: Little movement in L.A. area prices these last few days, all of it on the upside. An average gallon of regular is $4.154, according to the Auto Club, three-and-a-half cents higher than last week.
Money pouring into state capital: More than $42 million in campaign contributions have been given out in the final weeks of the legislative session and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain says it's hardly a coincidence:
The link between donations and legislative action is clearest at the end of a session. Politicians and the moneyed interests that enable them cannot help themselves. It will take an initiative to fix the problem, although Proposition 32, the bogus campaign finance overhaul on the Nov. 6 ballot, isn't the answer. The bulk of the money that has flowed this month, almost $37 million, has gone to ballot measures. But Gov. Jerry Brown and other politicians are so closely tied to some of those measures that many initiative donations also are made with a purpose, to curry favor.
Pot ordinance could be put off: Opponents of the city's pending ban on medical marijuana dispensaries say they have enough signatures to force a ballot referendum - and if that happens the ordinance, scheduled to take effect Sept. 6, could be temporarily suspended. From the LAT:
Activists say the ban violates a state law guaranteeing patients safe access to medical marijuana, because most people aren't able to grow medical-grade pot. That claim was the basis of a lawsuit filed against the city this month by a medical marijuana trade association that represents patients, dispensaries and growers. The referendum effort has been backed by other groups, including a newly formed labor union of dispensary workers. The groups are planning a news conference on the issue Wednesday morning -- and then to submit their signatures to the city.
ESPN extends baseball deal: The sports network agreed to a $5.6 billion extension of its TV rights agreement with Major League Baseball. That's roughly double what ESPN is now paying. From the NYT:
ESPN is paying a steep increase to hold on to baseball, much as it agreed last year to pay an average of $1.9 billion annually for "Monday Night Football," starting in 2014, up from $1.1 billion. "It is a lot of money," John Skipper, ESPN's president, said about the M.L.B. deal. "We don't do these deals without acutely understanding how to grow our business. In that context, it makes sense to us." He insisted that ESPN would not raise its monthly subscriber fee, now at $5.15, to finance the deal.
Wellpoint CEO resigns: Angela Braly stepped down after heavy pressure from major shareholders unhappy with the health insurer's performance. Wellpoint operates Anthem Blue Cross in California. (NYT)
Snag in Variety deal?: Hedge fund billionaire Marc Lasry was said to have been the likely buyer at between $30 million and $40 million, but the NY Post's Page 6 column says that he has lowered his bid. The paper also says that Ron Burkle has dropped out.