Review

Dec. 27 - Jan. 2

Water Standoff:
California missed a deadline to prevent the federal government from reducing the amount of water the state gets from the Colorado River because Southern California officials couldn't agree on a water-sharing arrangement by the end of the year. The Imperial Irrigation District approved a water sharing plan but neighboring agencies, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, opposed the agreement because of last-minute changes. California will lose 700,000 acre-feet of water next year, although water officials have said that a cutoff won't result in an immediate crisis.




More Mergers: Manatt Phelps & Phillips, one of the largest law firms in the city, announced it merged with Kalkines Arky Zall & Bernstein LLP, a New York firm. KAZB was founded in 1988 and is known for its health care practice. Manatt was founded in 1965.



China Secrets?:
The U.S. government has charged Hughes Electronic Corp. and a Boeing Co. unit with illegally transferring space technology that may have helped China develop rockets and intercontinental missiles. The two companies face possible restrictions in overseas sales, as well as more than $60 million in fines, if the State Department complaint is upheld. The complaint centers on technical help allegedly given the Chinese to determine causes of two failed rocket launches in the mid-1990s.




Hotel Venture: Hilton Hotels Corp. formed a $400 million venture with CNL Hospitality Corp. to buy and refurbish hotel properties as it seeks to boost management fee income. The venture has already bought the 500-room Doubletree hotel in Dallas and the 428-room Sheraton El Conquistador Resort in Tucson, Ariz. from MetLife Inc. for $121 million and has agreed to buy five more hotels.




Lower Forecast: Unocal Corp. lowered its fourth-quarter profit forecast because oil and natural gas prices fell short of expectations. The El Segundo-based company said that per share earnings would be 40-45 cents, down from an earlier forecast of 50-60 cents. Analysts were expecting a profit of 52 cents a share, according to the average estimate by Thomson First Call.




Phone Ruling: The state Public Utilities Commission gave formal approval to SBC Communications Inc.'s request to provide long-distance phone service in California. Soon after the PUC vote, SBC, formerly known in this market as Pacific Bell, announced long-distance rate packages that will compete with AT & T; and MCI, which both opposed SBC's request.



Egg Update:
State officials expanded a poultry quarantine to San Diego and Orange counties and ordered more than 1 million egg-producing hens destroyed amid growing concerns over the fast-spreading avian virus. The virus first surfaced at a Riverside County egg farm and has been spreading in recent days. Poultry farmers are prohibited from selling eggs but egg operations throughout Southern California remained open. The virus does not pose a threat to humans.



Hollywood Totals:
Moviegoers bought a record 1.57 billion tickets in 2002, breaking a record set in 1998, according to box office tracker Nielsen EDI. Box office grosses for the year totaled at least $9.3 billion, an 11 percent increase from 2001's then-record total. One reason for the increase is that at least 20 movies generated $100 million at the box office. As for the studio rankings, Sony is first, led by last summer's smash, "Spider-Man." Disney was in second place.

Preview

January 6 - 12
Line Items:
The magnitude of the state's budget crisis and Gov. Gray Davis' strategy to address it should become clearer this week. On Wednesday (8th), Davis will give his annual State of the State speech to the state Legislature, outlining his broad goals in closing the projected $35 billion budget deficit. Then on Friday (10th), the details get filled in as Davis releases his complete budget proposal. Local governments and schools are bracing for billions of dollars in cuts, while businesses and taxpayer advocates are girding for big hikes in taxes and fees.



Sports Beat:
With the football season just about over, it's pretty much all basketball for a while not a great prospect given the recent play of local teams. This week, the Lakers are home on Tuesday (7th) against Seattle, Friday (10th) against Cleveland and Sunday (12th) against Miami. The Clippers are home on Wednesday (8th) against Memphis and Sunday afternoon against Dallas. In the college ranks, UCLA faces USC on Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion and St. John's on Saturday afternoon. USC has its UCLA matchup, followed by Pennsylvania on Saturday at the Forum. The Kings are at home on Thursday against Edmonton and on Saturday against St. Louis. And don't forget the NFL divisional playoffs this weekend.



Awards Season:
Here we go again. Nominations for this year's Grammy Awards, being held at New York's Madison Square Garden, will be announced on Tuesday (7th). The 29th annual People's Choice Awards will be held on Sunday (12th) at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (broadcast on CBS that night).



Econ Reports:
The big news will be December's jobless numbers, due out on Friday (10th). An unexpected jump in November's jobless rate, to 6 percent, again raised the specter of a jobless recovery. Also watch for Tuesday's Redbook Retail Sales Index, which will offer additional clues on December sales results.



More Cars:
It's not too late to check out the latest motorized creations at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which ends on Sunday (12th) at the L.A. Convention Center. The show features more than 1,000 vehicles including a few of those concept cars that may or may not make it on the assembly line. Information: 213-741-1151.

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