Tuesday morning headlines

Stocks sink: Mixed economic news - a strong month for car sales, but disappointing numbers from a closely watched manufacturing index. Dow is down about 100 points.

Gas update: Prices keep edging higher - an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.173, according to the Auto Club, up a few cents from last week. Oil prices, meanwhile are closing in on $100 a barrel.

August car sales: Ford was up 13 percent, GM 10 percent, and Chrysler 14 percent, its best August since 2007. These increases are better than expected. (Reuters)

Sluggish box office summer: Ticket sales fell about 3 percent from Memorial Day to Labor Day compared with the same period in 2011 - the first decline in seven years. From the NYT:

Studio executives point to the mass shooting in July at a Colorado theater as one reason for the unexpectedly chilly summer. In the weeks after the killings, which took place at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," up to 25 percent of moviegoers were reluctant to visit multiplexes, according to the research firm NRG. Higher than normal interest in the Olympics also kept people home, with one out of every 10 moviegoers replacing at least one trip to the movies with televised sports, according to the research firm Ipsos MediaCT. Consumers also continued to push back against higher ticket prices; although Imax had a solid season, theaters sold an estimated 15 percent fewer premium-priced 3-D tickets this summer compared with the period a year earlier.

Guggenheim buys Dick Clark Productions: Purchase price is about $370 million, DealBook is reporting. Guggenheim, which is the majority owner of the Dodgers, is teaming up with Peter Guber's Mandalay Entertainment (Guber also has a share in the Dodgers) and Mosaic Media Investment Partners.

Grand Avenue developer says it has financing: Groundbreaking on the planned $100 million apartment tower south of the Broad museum could happen as soon as November. From the Downtown News:

The timing is crucial because Related's contract with the city and county joint powers authority that controls the land demands that the 271-unit apartment project start by October. While that deadline comes one month before the expected groundbreaking, the securing of financing will likely give Related a few months grace period to start work. The 19-story building was first proposed last year as a scaled-back version of the two 35-story towers that were originally approved for the site, which is known as parcel M.

Legislature passes movie tax credit extension: The two-year measure provides incentives for movie and TV production companies wanting to do most of their shooting in the state. It's in response to incentive programs in other states. (Capitol Alert)

Workers comp overhaul approved: The measure, passed on the last night of the legislative session, is expected to increase benefits for injured workers and reduce costs for employers (premiums were set to go up in January). From the LAT:

The package, which emerged last week after months of negotiations between business and labor groups, streamlines the no-fault-insurance system. Besides the benefit increases, the money-saving provisions of the bill are aimed at reducing litigation and delays in medical treatment. The cost-cutting comes at a crucial time for the 14.4 million employees in the state as well as their 864,000 employers. Spiraling healthcare inflation is putting pressure on insurers, and experts estimated that employers would be likely to face big hikes in the premiums they pay when their policies renewed. Supporters warned that without the bill, insurance rate increases would possibly spur layoffs as the state is struggling to revive the economy.

Apartment, retail complex under construction: Located across from the Kirk Douglas Theatre, the mixed-use project is being developed by Santa Monica apartment landlord NMS Properties. The site was formerly occupied by Culver Plaza. (LAT)

Crowell, Weedon takes hit: The L.A.-based brokerage lost more than $3 million on credit default swaps tied to the housing market, the LAT is reporting.

The blowup occurred at a trading desk set up to make bearish bets on housing using the same kind of tricky financial instruments that nearly sank giant insurer American International Group Inc. in New York in 2008. The brokerage fired not only the unidentified trader who made the wrong-way bet but also gave the boot to other, uninvolved employees as a cost-cutting measure in the aftermath of the fiasco.

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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