Thursday morning headlines

Stocks open up, now down: Market isn't doing much of anything this morning. Dow is down about 20 points.

Good month for retail sales: November saw a 0.3 percent increase - that offsets a weak October - and factoring out gas prices the numbers were even stronger. From AP:

The report offered a mixed signal for the holiday shopping season. Sales that reflect online shopping surged 3 percent - the biggest gain in 13 months. But department store sales tumbled and Americans spent less at stores like Wal-Mart and Target. Some of the decline may be because of the storm. Still, economists worry that consumers may also be growing more cautious because of looming tax increases set to take effect in January.

Another big drop in jobless claims: Weekly filings for unemployment benefits were down 29,000 to 343,000, the second-lowest total this year. The decline shows that companies aren't laying off workers in advance of the possible fiscal cliff. (AP)

Best Buy founder to bid on company: Or so says a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Richard Schulze's offer is expected to be at least $5 billion to $6 billion, the newspaper reported. Best Buy stock jumped on the news. (Reuters)

Blue Shield seeks rate hikes: The proposed increases would average 12 percent for more than 300,000 customers. State officials can review the changes, but they do not have the authority to reject them. (LAT)

Big Geffen donation: The L.A. billionaire is giving UCLA's School of Medicine $100-million to create a scholarship fund to cover the recipients' entire cost of medical school. (LAT)

New concourse for Long Beach airport: The facility cost $45 million and includes 10,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space. The work, completed five months ahead of schedule, was funded through airport revenue. (Press-Telegram)

Inventor of the bar code dies: N. Joseph Woodland was 91. From the NYT:

Mr. Woodland was a graduate student when he and a classmate, Bernard Silver, created a technology -- based on a printed series of wide and narrow striations -- that encoded consumer-product information for optical scanning. Their idea, developed in the late 1940s and patented 60 years ago this fall, turned out to be ahead of its time. But it would ultimately give rise to the universal product code, or U.P.C., as the staggeringly prevalent rectangular bar code is officially known.

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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