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VOL. 123 | NO. 194 | Friday, October 3, 2008

Daily Digest

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Florida Company Buys Collierville Outparcel

Interface Houston Levee LLC, a local entity related to Boca Raton, Fla.-based Interface Properties Inc., has paid $1.6 million for 1.37 acres in Collierville from Houston Levee Galleria Joint Venture. The land is an outparcel of the Houston Levee Galleria, a 26-acre mixed-used development on the southeast corner of Houston Levee Road and Poplar Avenue.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal of the land is $717,500, and the site is zoned commercial. The outparcel is just north of a BackYard Burgers restaurant and a First Citizens National Bank branch.

Houston Levee Galleria was developed by Germantown-based McNeill Investment Co., which was the seller of record in the transaction. Spence Ray, executive vice president with McNeill Investment, said one 5-acre parcel remains for sale on the site, part of the Ironwood Planned Development.

Interface Houston Levee financed the purchase with a $2.8 million construction loan from Northern Trust NA. Kenneth Goodman signed the trust deed as manager; a call to his office was not immediately returned. The transaction also included an assignment of rents and leases.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Jobless Claims Rise, Factory Orders Plunge

Tight credit is taking a toll on manufacturing and jobs.

More people than expected lined up at the unemployment lines last week and orders to U.S. factories plunged by the largest amount in two years, according to government data released Thursday.

New applications for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week to a seven-year high because of a weakening economy and the impact of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The department reported that initial claims for jobless benefits increased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 497,000, the highest since just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks seven years ago.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported Thursday that factory orders in August plunged by 4 percent compared to July, a much steeper decline than the 2.5 percent drop analysts expected and the biggest setback since a 4.8 percent plunge in October 2006.

The weakness was led by big declines in orders for aircraft, down 38.1 percent, and autos, which fell by 10.6 percent, the worst performance in nearly six years.

The hurricanes, which hit Texas and Louisiana earlier this month, added about 45,000 claims from the two states for the week ending Sept. 27, the department reported.

The hurricanes have led to higher claims for several weeks. As a result, the four-week average of claims, which smoothes out fluctuations, jumped to 474,000, up 11,500 from the previous week.

In the week ending Sept. 20, Texas reported a 22,235 jump in claims. Louisiana officials said claims rose by 9,671.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits increased to 3.59 million, up 48,000 and higher than analysts’ estimates. That’s the highest total in five years.

Jobless claims are at elevated levels even excluding the hurricanes. Weekly claims have now topped 400,000 for 11 straight weeks, a level economists consider a sign of recession. A year ago, claims stood at 324,000.

“There’s little doubt that the rising trend in jobless claims reflects a marked deterioration in job market conditions,” David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities, wrote in a note to clients.

Phillips to be Honored By University of Memphis

Knox Phillips, the son of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, will receive the 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award in the Creative and Performing Arts from the University of Memphis College of Communications and Fine Arts at a luncheon later this month.

Among his professional accomplishments, which include record production and engineering, Phillips serves on the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music Advisory Board at the University of Memphis.

The luncheon, which costs $50 per person or $350 for tables of eight, will be held Oct. 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Rendezvous restaurant Downtown.

Memphis Library Board Elects Officers

The Memphis Public Library & Information Center’s board of trustees has elected officers.

The seven-member board elected David Williams, CEO of Leadership Memphis, as chair; Dorothy Boggan, Memphis Public Library retiree, as vice chair; and Margaret McLean, a stay-at-home mom, as secretary.

Also serving on the board are Hanley Elementary School principal Ruby Payne, retired elementary school teacher Halloe Robinson, librarian Debby McElroy-Clark, and University of Memphis student Sean Upshaw.

Mayor Willie W. Herenton assembled the board earlier this summer with approval from the Memphis City Council.

30-Year Mortgages Rise Slightly

Rates on 30-year mortgages have risen for a second straight week, climbing to the highest level in a month.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages nationwide averaged 6.10 percent this week, up slightly from 6.09 percent last week.

It was the highest level since 30-year mortgages averaged 6.35 percent for the week ending Sept. 4.

Delta, Northwest To Shift Planes

Within months of Delta’s buyout of Northwest, the airline will begin shifting its planes around to put them on the right routes, a Delta executive said this week.

The two fleets will operate separately until after the federal government signs off on a joint operating certificate, which could take much of next year. But they don’t have to wait that long to shift planes to different routes, with the potential for Northwest 747s to fly out of Atlanta, for instance.

“We can move our planes around as soon as the merger is complete,” said Joanne Smith, Delta Air Lines Inc.’s senior vice president of in-flight service, speaking at a breast cancer fundraiser at a Northwest Airlines Corp. hangar on Wednesday.

The airlines hope to close the deal by the end of this year. Smith said they expect to begin shifting planes during the second quarter, which runs through the end of June 2009.

Northwest, which has a hub in Memphis, and Delta have only the Boeing 757 in common. Beyond that, their mainline fleet is a stew of Northwest’s 100- to 125-seat DC-9s up to its 747s. Delta’s fleet, meanwhile, includes the 767, with 287 seats.

Initially, the crews will follow the airplane. So if Northwest’s 747s move to Atlanta, 747 flight attendants based at Northwest hubs could be forced to commute. That’s because the Federal Aviation Administration requires them to be trained on the particular plane on which they’re working.

Smith said Delta will try to minimize the disruption, adding, “Moving flight attendants to fly the airplane in this industry is not unusual.”

Delta executives have said they believe they can get $2 billion in cost savings by joining the airlines. Matching the right planes to the right routes is an important part of that savings, Smith said.

Last week, shareholders at both companies approved the stock swap. The main remaining hurdles are antitrust clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice, and a lawsuit seeking to stop the deal, which is set for trial Nov. 5 in San Francisco.

PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426