Thursday morning headlines

Stocks edging higher: The Nasdaq lagged other indexes because Apple stock continues to sink. The Dow is up about 10 points.

Jobless claims drop again: Weekly filings for unemployment benefits were down 25,000 to 370,000 - close to the range where claims had been holding until Hurricane Sandy. (AP)

Mortgage rates tick up: But they remain near record lows - an average 30-year loan is 3.34 percent. (AP)

Optimism for California: Poll finds that 44 percent say the state is generally moving in the right direction, the highest tally since June 2007. Gov. Brown's approval rating is 48 percent, a record high, according to the survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. (Sacramento Bee)

Good grades for state: California has made "notable progress" in dealing with its fiscal matters, according to Fitch Ratings, which praised the state for approving two tax increase initiatives last month and for making significant spending cuts. (LAT)

Inland Empire turning around: The San Bernardino-Riverside economy is showing some strength in home prices and new residential and nonresidential construction, according to Beacon Economics. (San Bernardino Sun)

What led to port settlement?: Some members of the ILWU were putting pressure on negotiators to cut a deal, reports the Daily Breeze.

Most of the union's 10,000 members were not part of the strike - they were only honoring picket lines - and some wanted to start earning paychecks again, some close to the talks say. The third factor was the arrival of George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington, D.C. Union officials had resisted management calls for a mediator, but they eventually relented Tuesday morning after talks stalled.

L.A. to regulate valet parkers: The City Council voted to require operators to obtain a permit, carry liability insurance, and ensure that their workers have valid California driver's licenses. From the LAT:

The ordinance will be phased in across the city, with Hollywood expected to be first to implement the rules. That will allow for input from residents and business owners in Venice and elsewhere, [Councilman Eric] Garcetti said. Richard Tefank, executive director of the Police Commission, said the program might start next spring. The commission will set the fees, issue permits and explain the program to police and parking enforcement officers.

Another smash for Activision: "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," the latest installment in the company's video-game series, topped $1 billion in sales within its first 15 days of release. The previous installment reached that level in 16 days. (Bloomberg)

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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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