Monday morning headlines

Markets closed: Hurricane Sandy shuts down trading, the first weather-related close since 1985. Exchanges are likely to stay closed on Tuesday. From AP:

Much of the East Coast was at a standstill Monday as the storm approached. New York City's mass transit system was closed down and areas around the Financial District in lower Manhattan were part of a mandatory evacuation zone. The storm surge from Sandy, which is due to make landfall later Monday, is expected to push waters into portions of lower Manhattan. A spokesman for the exchange said an official announcement would be made later Monday about whether the closures would extend into Tuesday.

Earnings reports postponed: Pfizer, Thomson Reuters and NRG Energy are among the companies holding off release of quarterly earnings due to the storm. (AP)

Bump in consumer spending: The 0.8 percent increase in September was better than expected. It follows a 0.5 percent gain in August and was the best showing since February. (AP)

Gas prices falling sharply: Nearly back to where they were before the big run-up. An average price of regular in the L.A. area is $4.219, according to the Auto Club, down nearly 50 cents from its all-time high earlier this month.

Billboard firm drafts proposal: Looking to bypass a court ruling, Clear Channel wrote a motion now before the City Council that could help the company preserve hundreds of millions of dollars in electronic billboard business. From the LAT:

The motion was loudly denounced by neighborhood activists, who accused [Councilmen Ed Reyes and Paul Krekorian] Reyes of trying to head off a court decision detrimental to the interests of the two companies that operate the electronic billboards. On Friday, Reyes spokeswoman Monica Valencia acknowledged that a Clear Channel lobbyist had drafted the initial motion. She defended the company's involvement, saying Reyes receives motions from private sources "all the time."

Box office report: Slow weekend - The CIA thriller "Argo" lands in the top spot, at $12.4 million. "Hotel Transylvania" was second ($9.5 million) followed by "Cloud Atlas" ($9.4 million). (Entertainment Weekly)

Are movies losing their relevance?: Sluggish ticket sales could be telling Hollywood something. From the NYT:

Several industry groups, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, and the nonprofit American Film Institute, which supports cinema, are privately brainstorming about starting public campaigns to convince people that movies still matter. That seemed self-evident only a few years ago. But the mood has turned wistful as people in the industry watch the momentum shift toward television. Even the movies' biggest night will feed that trend: the Academy has lined up Seth MacFarlane, a powerful television writer-producer, as the host of the Oscars.

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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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