August 13 - 19

Gas Update: Despite oil prices hitting $48 a barrel, the price of gasoline continued to fall. For the week ended Aug. 16, the price of a gallon of self-serve regular in the Los Angeles area was $2.051, down from $2.092 a week earlier. Statewide, the average price was $2.055, down from $2.092. Analysts doubted that the declines would last much longer, given the jump in oil last week.

Westwood Vote: The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval to a $100 million mixed-use development in Westwood Village. To be built by Alan Casden, the Palazzo Westwood project will include 350 apartments and about 50,000 square feet of retail. It is expected to take 2 & #733; years to complete. The council vote ends years of squabbling between developers and homeowners groups on what to do with the Glendon Boulevard property.

Rack Approval: City Council also voted to approve the language of a proposed ordinance that would regulated the spacing and color of news racks. The ordinance is expected to be approved by the end of the year. A coalition of newspaper companies has threatened a lawsuit over the requirement that all racks be a uniform ivy green.

Jobless Numbers: Los Angeles County's unemployment rate remained unchanged in July at 6.9 percent, but a separate payroll survey showed a loss of 17,300 positions in California the first decline since February. Nationwide, there were only a small number of new jobs and analysts have begun expressing concerns about the economy's health.

Northrop Win: Northrop Grumman Corp. received a $1.04 billion award to develop an unmanned bomber. Under a five-year contract, Los Angeles-based Northrop will design three of the planes whose missions would include attacking enemy air defenses. Flight demonstrations will begin in 2007.

Home Slide: L.A. County housing prices cooled off in July, with a median-priced home at $406,000, a 23.8 percent jump from the like period a year earlier but down 2 percent from June's $414,000. Real estate brokers report that listed properties are staying on the market longer than they were earlier this year, although activity remains strong: July was the 13th straight month that the median price in Los Angeles County was up at least 20 percent year-over-year.

Mexican Sale: Tarrant Apparel Group agreed to sell almost all its property and manufacturing assets in Mexico for about $6.6 million. The buyer, Tarrant shareholder Kamel Nacif, will pay either 4.72 million shares of Tarrant common stock or the cash proceeds from its sale, and $40.2 million in secured promissory notes for mills and equipment. L.A.-based Tarrant provides casual clothing to retailers.

Earnings Results: Arden Group Inc. reported second-quarter net income of $5.8 million, compared with $3.3 million for the like period a year earlier. Revenue for the Compton-based parent of Gelson's Markets was $120.7 million, up from $101.2 million. Hot Topic Inc. reported second-quarter net income of $4.6 million, compared with $5.3 million for the like period a year earlier. Revenue for the City of Industry-based retailer rose 18 percent, to $136.3 million.

Oxford Sale: JB Oxford Holdings Inc., which is under investigation as part of the wide-reaching mutual fund trading scandal, said it was seeking a buyer for its clearing and discount brokerage units. Earlier this summer, the Beverly Hills-based firm said it was selling its retail discount brokerage operation. The company has been named in a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Showbiz Breakup: Caryn Mandabach is leaving TV production studio Carsey-Werner-Mandabach after 20 years with the company to start her own production business. Earlier this year, the company had put itself on the block but two weeks later announced that it was no longer for sale.

August 23 - 29

Athens Games: The Olympics continue through the week, concluding on Sunday (29th), with a wide range of sporting events, including baseball, wrestling and the track and field competitions. The closing ceremonies will feature traditional Greek dances, a symbolic wedding and a cast of black-clad flashlight bearers suggesting the night sky.

Sports Beat: The U.S. Open tennis championship begins in New York on Monday (23rd). The tournament continues through Sept. 5. The Dodgers are on the road, first against Montreal, then against the New York Mets. The Angels play at home against Kansas City on Monday through Wednesday (23rd-25th) and Minnesota on Friday through Sunday (27th-29th).

Economic Reports: Tuesday (24th): ICSC-UBS Store Sales Index, Redbook Retail Sales Index, July existing home sales, ABC/Money Consumer Confidence. Wednesday (25th): July durable goods orders, July new home sales. Thursday (26th): Initial jobless claims for the week of Aug. 21, July Help Wanted index, DJ-BTM business barometer for the week of Aug. 14. Friday (27th): Q2 preliminary GDP.

Havana Sounds: Orquestra La Moderna Tradic & #237;on, a 14-piece ensemble from the Bay Area, performs the classic music of Cuba, including the Cha-cha-cha in a classic style directed by Roberto Borell, at the Ford Amphitheatre on Sunday (29th). For information: 323-461-3673.

Blues Power: Brother Yusef, a slide-guitar soloist playing contemporary urban blues, performs at One Colorado in Pasadena on Friday (27th) as part of the free Summer Music Series. For information: 626-564-1066.

Special Scholarships: The Southwest Los Angeles Chapter of the Rotary Club will announce the winners of the Nickolas N. Shammas Scholarship Fund awards at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday (28th). The $1,000 awards are granted in memory of Shammas, a longtime L.A. auto dealer and real estate leader who died in 2003. For information: 323-931-6745.

World Music: Atash performs at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday (26th). The quintet blends modern and ancient sounds, drawing influences for India and the Middle East and playing with the energy of rock and the intricacy of Western classical music. For information: 310-440-4500.

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