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VOL. 122 | NO. 215 | Monday, November 12, 2007

Daily Digest

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EMS Buys 3.4 Acres Adjacent to Appling Facility

     Bartlett-based Engineered Medical Systems LLC has bought 3.45 acres of vacant land adjacent to the north of the company's facility at 3325 Appling Road. Glen E. Bascom Sr. sold the property for $580,000.
     EMS financed the purchase with a $435,000 loan through First Tennessee Bank NA.
     The land, which is at the southwest corner of Appling Road and Brother Boulevard in Appling Brother Corporate Park, was appraised by the Shelby County Assessor in 2007 at $419,000.
     EMS manufactures surgical instruments and medical implants. The company's 40,000-square-foot Appling facility houses machining equipment, according to the company's Web site.
     An EMS representative did not immediately return a phone call.

Foreclosures Filed Against Mark Matthews Dev.

     Trust One Bank has filed seven foreclosure notices against Mark Matthews Development LLC. The first-run notices begin on Page 33 of today's issue of The Daily News.
     Six of the mortgages were taken out in 2006 and one in April 2007. The total amount in default is about $2.5 million.
     The properties in foreclosure are one lot in Sutton Place East Planned Development, two lots in Concord Estates Subdivision, one lot in Brookmeade P.D., one lot in Tulip Creek Subdivision, one lot in Stonebriar P.D. Subdivision and two lots in St. Andrews Place P.D., with the last two filed together.
     The lots are scheduled for sale Dec. 4 at noon outside the Adams Avenue entrance to the Shelby County Courthouse.
     For more information about the legal issues facing the Mark Matthews brothers' companies, see the Oct. 29 issue of The Daily News.

Fred's October Sales Increase 4 Percent

     Fred's Inc. reported record sales for the four-week fiscal month of October and the nine-month period ended Nov. 3.
     Fred's total sales for the month increased 4 percent to $129.5 million from $124.9 million in October last year. Comparable store sales for the month rose 0.6 percent compared with a 2.5 percent decline in September 2006 comparable store sales.
     Total sales increased 3 percent to $419.9 million for the third quarter of 2007 from $407.9 million in the same period last year. Comparable store sales for the quarter rose 1.1 percent on top of a 3 percent increase in the third quarter last year.
     Total sales for the first nine months of 2007 increased 4 percent to $1.287 billion compared to $1.232 billion in the year-earlier period. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales for 2007 increased 1.2 percent versus a 2.1 percent gain posted in the first nine months of 2006.

UTHSC Lab Receives $4M in Funding

     The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a bill that included $4 million in funding for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's Regional Biocontainment Laboratory. The laboratory will be in the UT-Baptist Research Park in the Memphis Medical District.
     The bill, H.R. 3222, passed the House by a vote of 400-15 and is expected to be signed into law by the president.
     The Memphis Bioworks Foundation predicts the lab will have an economic impact of $2 billion a year, creating 500 new jobs and $250 million in annual salaries. Thirty to 50 scientific research positions are expected to be created at the time of its opening.
     The lab is under construction on the site of the former Baptist Memorial Hospital on Union Avenue and is scheduled to be in operation by next summer. The lab will be used for biodefense and microbial research related to serious emerging infections.

Economic Growth Will Slow, Fed Chair Says

     Economic growth will slow noticeably in coming months while surging oil costs will raise inflation pressures, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week. But he said the economy is nowhere close to the stagflation nightmare of the 1970s and he predicted an economic rebound by mid-2008.
     Testifying before the Joint Economic Committee, Bernanke acknowledged a host of problems facing the economy, from a deeper-than-expected housing slump to a lingering credit crunch and now sharply rising oil prices and a falling value of the dollar, both of which increase inflation threats.
     Bernanke stressed that the central bank, which has cut a key interest rate twice over the past two months, was closely watching developments and would be prepared to respond as needed. However, he stressed that the central bank believes economic risks are roughly balanced at present between the threat of weaker growth and higher inflation.
     Economists said Bernanke's noncommittal tone on further rate cuts could have been influenced by worries about a sharp plunge in the value of the dollar against other currencies, a fall that has accelerated since the Fed began cutting rates. Lower U.S. interest rates make foreigners less interested in holding dollar-denominated assets such as stocks and bonds.
     But many analysts said they were still looking for the central bank to cut rates again in December or January, because they believe the economy will have slowed so much by that time that the Fed will need to boost activity to prevent a recession.
     "Bernanke may not have his finger on the easing trigger, but he likely won't hesitate to squeeze again if ... the economy weakens more than anticipated," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
     Bernanke said he and his colleagues believe economic activity will "slow noticeably in the fourth quarter" compared to the 3.9 percent pace of the third quarter, reflecting the impact of higher energy prices, tighter credit and continuing weakness in housing on consumer spending. Many analysts believe growth could be as weak as 1.5 percent in the current quarter.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Hit Five-Month Low

     Rates on 30-year mortgages fell for the third straight week, dropping to the lowest level in five months.
     Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 6.24 percent last week, down from 6.26 percent the previous week.
     It was the third straight weekly decline after rates hit 6.40 percent. Analysts attributed the decreases to mounting evidence the economy is starting to slow.
     "Reports of weaker consumer spending in September and a decline in manufacturing activity in October kept mortgages at bay," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac.
     Mortgage rates fell across the board last week.
     Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, averaged 5.90 percent, down from 5.91 percent the previous week.
     Rates on five-year adjustable rate mortgages averaged 5.89 percent, down from 5.98 percent the previous week.
     Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages dropped to 5.50 percent, down from 5.57 percent the previous week.
     The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages carried a nationwide average fee of 0.4 point while 15-year mortgages and five-year ARMs carried an average fee of 0.5 point. The one-year ARM carried an average fee of 0.6 point.
     A year ago, 30-year mortgages stood at 6.33 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 6.04 percent, five-year ARMs averaged 6.08 percent and one-year ARMs were at 5.55 percent.
     The worst slump in housing in more than two decades worsened in recent months in the face of rising mortgage defaults that triggered a severe credit crunch that has roiled financial markets since August.
     Many homeowners are having trouble making higher payments now that their low introductory ARMs are resetting to higher rates. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke estimated Thursday in congressional testimony that an average of 450,000 subprime mortgages - loans offered to borrowers with weak credit histories - will reset each quarter through the end of 2008.

This report compiled by Rosalind Guy with contributions from research analyst Kate Simone, editorial assistant Rebekah Hearn and The Associated Press.

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PROPERTY SALES 110 405 5,939
MORTGAGES 141 492 7,092
BUILDING PERMITS 161 1,006 12,591
BANKRUPTCIES 43 259 4,347

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