Business Update with Mark Lacter |

Happy or sad?

Today, I'm choosing happy. The economy has seen some signs of thawing out just a little. It remains a very long road, but at least we’re on our way. One hopeful - and somewhat surprising - indicator was state revenue coming in above projections in February, the third month in a row that's happened. The difference came from larger-than-expected corporate and sales tax revenue. How that reflects a pickup in business is the big question, but State Controller John Chiang says that the additional revenue, along with recent legislative action on improving cash flow, should cover everybody's tax refunds this spring (no need for IOUs). "While the worst may be behind us, we still face cash challenges later in the summer absent enactment of further credible and sustainable budget and cash solutions," Chiang says. Here's the report.

Another positive has been the interest by individual investors in California's tax-free bond offering. As of Wednesday morning, orders had been received for two-thirds of the $2-billion sale. In fact, some of the maturities are oversubscribed. For a state that's supposedly on the verge of implosion, that's not a bad showing. Yields have not been announced - and if demand continues to be strong, they might turn out to be smaller than expected. (LAT)

Finally, let’s mention the 32,500 jobs that were added to California payrolls in January, the most of any state. True, the unemployment rate edged higher, but most economists expect the jobless numbers to be peaking out. Of course, the question is not so much whether things are going to get any worse, but when they're going to get better. Here's the BLS release.