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Review & Preview

Review

Aug. 27 – Sept. 2

Gas Update: For the second consecutive week, gasoline prices rose in the Los Angeles area. An average gallon of self-serve regular for the week ended Aug. 30 was $2.118, up from $2.053 a week earlier. Statewide, the average price was $2.100, up from $2.051. Analysts generally expect gasoline prices to inch down, given the drop in oil prices and the end of the summer driving season.

Rich Lifestyles: The average luxury home price in Los Angeles rose 17.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, to $1.72 million, according to a study by First Republic Bank. It was the sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year double-digit gains for the area. In the San Francisco Bay area, the average price jumped 16.4 percent, to $2.54 million. The bank defines luxury homes as those valued at more than $1 million.




Olympic Viewers: NBC’s audience ratings for the Summer Olympics in Athens rose 9 percent over the 2000 Games in Sydney, the lowest-rated Summer Olympics since 1968. The telecasts for the 17 days of the games were watched by an average 15 percent of U.S. households with televisions, compared with 13.8 percent in 2000, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc. NBC has raised its projected profit from the games as a result of the audience numbers.

Casino Deal?: Colony Capital, an L.A. investment firm that owns the Las Vegas Hilton, is in talks to acquire the Atlantic City Hilton and three other casinos owned by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and Caesars Entertainment Inc., several news organizations reported, citing sources close to the deal. Purchase price of all four casinos is believed to be more than $1 billion.

Hospitals Sold: Tenet Healthcare Corp. has agreed to sell three acute-care hospitals in Los Angeles to a group of investors that includes physicians and L.A. private investment firm Westridge Capital. The hospitals being sold, which include Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood and Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital, are among 27 that Santa Barbara-based Tenet said that it would divest. Terms were not disclosed.

MGM Mania: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. was in play through the week. Time Warner Inc. was reported to be ready to pay about $4.5 billion. Then the studio’s owner, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, disputing a report that a $5 billion sale to Sony Corp. would be announced this week, said MGM remained on the block. Shares fell 8 percent to $11.13 on the announcement. MGM is “actively continuing” its considerations of strategic alternatives, the announcement stated. It was believed that Kerkorian, 87, preferred the all-cash Time Warner deal to the more complicated Sony offer.

It’s a Gas: The California Public Utilities Commission granted Sempra Energy and other California utility owners approval to import liquefied natural gas to help meet increasing demand for the fuel. The 3-2 vote allows Sempra to include Russian and other foreign-produced fuel in its long-term contracts. Sempra and a European partner are building a plant in Baja, Mexico that is slated to start receiving shipments in 2004.

Whirlybird Whirl: Century City-based Northrop Grumman Corp. announced it will team with a European consortium to compete for a $2 billion U.S. Air Force contract that calls for development and construction of a search-and-rescue helicopter. The consortium, European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. is based in Holland and groups French, German and Spanish aerospace companies.

Preview

September 6 – 13

Labor Day: Always on the first Monday in September, Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York in 1882, although it wasn’t until 1894 that Congress made it a national holiday. These days, most everything except the larger retailers are closed, including the financial markets. This being a presidential year, Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the final, two-month stretch run until Election Day.

Quarterly Update: UCLA Anderson School economists provide their latest take on the local, state and national economies on Wednesday (8th). The session will include a presentation on how business might be affected by a population that is steadily getting older. For information: 310-206-7707.

Economic Reports: Wednesday (8th): ICSC-UBS weekly store sales index, Redbook weekly retail sales index, July consumer credit, ABC/Money consumer confidence. Thursday (9th): Initial jobless claims, August import prices, July wholesale prices. Friday (10th): July trade deficit. State unemployment numbers.

Sports Beat: The Dodgers are at home against Arizona on Tuesday through Thursday (7th-9th) and St. Louis on Friday through Sunday (10th-12th). The Angels are at home against Toronto on Tuesday through Thursday (8th-9th) and the Chicago White Sox on Friday through Sunday (10th-12th). USC is back in action on Saturday (11th) at the Coliseum against Colorado State. The Bruins are on the road against Illinois. The Galaxy plays the Earthquakes on Saturday (11th). The Sparks are on the road against Phoenix.

L.A. Issue: Speakers at Literacy@Work, a USC presentation on Wednesday (8th), include Mayor James Hahn, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and KCET Vice President Val Zavala. The program includes presentation of a five-year action plan addressing the needs of the 3.8 million people in Los Angeles who can’t read well enough to use a bus schedule or complete a job application. For information: 213-237-4350.

Mayoral Confab: The Los Angeles Business Council’s 2004 Mayoral Housing Summit on Thursday (9th) at UCLA explores ways to increase the availability of housing for all. Participating will be Mayor James Hahn, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale and former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros.




Graphic Arts: The Hammer Museum presents “Proof of Genius: The Prints of Albrecht D & #252;rer,” opening Saturday (12th). The exhibit, which continues through January, features 30 seminal woodcuts, engravings and etchings by the celebrated German Renaissance painter and printmaker. For information: 310-443-7020.

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