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VOL. 124 | NO. 65 | Friday, April 3, 2009

Daily Digest

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Gregory Realty LLC Borrows on Several Lots

Gregory Realty LLC on March 26 took out a $962,000 loan for various lots in the Barcrest Subdivision west of the intersection of Pleasant View and Sycamore View Roads.

The lender was First Tennessee Bank NA. The loan has a maturity date of March 18, 2014.

Gregory Realty has a listed address of 295 Washington Ave., but the number given for the company has been disconnected.

The property is a 3.04-acre lot with a 35,103-square-foot, one-story brick veneer warehouse built in 1983. It sits in a light industrial zoning district. It sits on Barcrest at the north side of Crestview Drive.

The Shelby County Assessor’s 2008 appraisal of the property and building was $168,100.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

House Vote Would Let Local Officials Meet Online

The state House has unanimously passed a measure to allow members of local governments to communicate

in online chat rooms without violating Tennessee’s open meetings laws.

Republican Rep. Bill Dunn, the bill’s main sponsor, said the proposal would be modeled on a pilot program in effect in his hometown of Knoxville.

Any online discussions would have to be open to public inspection, and all votes would have to be made in person. It would be up to local governments to decide whether to participate in the online program.

The House passed the measure on a 97-0 vote. The companion bill is awaiting a full Senate vote.

House Rejects Gun Carry for Lawmakers

The state House has passed a measure to allow current and retired judges to carry handguns wherever law enforcement officers can.

But the body rejected an attempt to expand the bill to cover current and former members of the General Assembly.

The chamber voted 85-10 Thursday to pass the bill sponsored by Rep. Johnny Shaw, a Bolivar Democrat. The vote came after an extensive debate about an effort by Rep. Henry Fincher, a Cookeville Democrat, to have the measure cover state lawmakers.

Fincher argued that lawmakers could be endangered because of their public positions, but several members said they didn’t want to create special rules for members of the General Assembly.

Fincher’s proposal was rejected on a 51-39 vote.

New Jobless Claims See Unexpected Jump

The number of people filing new jobless claims jumped unexpectedly last week, while those continuing to receive benefits hit a 10th straight record-high. Both figures show the labor market remains weak and is unlikely to recover anytime soon, despite some signs the economy’s decline is moderating.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 657,000. That total was above analysts’ expectations and the highest in more than 26 years, though the work force has grown by about half since then.

“Claims are typically one of the very first indicators to signal economic recovery, and there is no sign of that in the data yet,” Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a client note.

The tally of laid-off workers claiming benefits for more than a week rose 161,000 to 5.73 million, setting a record for the 10th straight week. That also was above analysts’ expectations and indicates that unemployed workers are having difficulty finding new jobs. The continuing claims data lag the initial claims by one week.

An additional 1.5 million people received benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program approved by Congress last year. That’s as of March 14, the latest data available. Jobless benefits typically last 26 weeks, but the federal government is paying for an additional 20 to 33 weeks of compensation under the extended program, depending on each state’s unemployment rate.

As a proportion of the work force, the number of people on the jobless benefit rolls is the highest since May 1983. The four-week moving average of jobless claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose to 656,750, the highest since October 1982, when the economy was emerging from a deep recession.

US Factory Orders Increase 1.8% in February

Orders to U.S. factories posted an increase in February after six straight monthly declines, providing another glimmer of hope that the economy’s deep plunge may be starting to moderate.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Thursday that orders for manufactured products rose by 1.8 percent in February, much better than the 1.1 percent decline economists had expected.

The rebound may well prove temporary given all the forces that are continuing to batter the economy. But still, analysts said a string of better-than-expected reports in recent days could at least be signaling that the severe slide that has occurred may be starting to ease slightly.

The increase in total factory orders was led by a 3.5 percent gain in demand for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years. That was slightly better than a preliminary government estimate last week that durable goods orders had risen by 3.4 percent in February.

Non-durable goods, products such as chemicals, food and paper, showed a 0.3 percent rise in February following a 0.5 percent gain in January.

The strength last month included a big swing in demand for machinery with orders jumping 12.7 percent in February, the biggest one-month gain in nearly 15 years.

Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, seen as a good proxy for business investment plans, showed a 1.4 percent drop in February. Business investment spending plunged during the fourth quarter of last year, one of the sectors that contributed to the economy’s overall decline at an annual rate of 6.3 percent, the biggest decrease in the gross domestic product since 1982.

Orders for transportation goods rose by 2.7 percent in February even though demand for commercial aircraft plunged by 29 percent. That weakness was offset by big gains for defense aircraft and a 1.1 percent rise in demand for motor vehicles and parts. The auto increase could prove temporary given all the problems facing automakers trying to sell cars in the midst of the country’s worst recession in a quarter-century.

St. Jude, UTHSC Share $2.7 Million Grant

Professor Lawrence Pfeffer, director of the Center for Cancer Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Dr. Andrew M. Davidoff, the chair of the Department of Surgery at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, have been awarded a more than $2.7 million grant to study new strategies for treating glioma, a type of brain cancer.

The five-year grant, which began March 1, was awarded by the National Cancer Institute with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The goal of the study is to determine whether interferon may have some efficacy in defeating the growth of cancer cells. Interferons are natural proteins produced by the cells of the immune system.

Gov’t Sees Loan Defaults, Foreclosures Rise

The number of troubled loans backed by the government’s mortgage insurance program is rising as economic problems mount, and lawmakers are worried taxpayers will be stuck with the final bill.

U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., warned Thursday that the Federal Housing Administration is a “powder keg” waiting to explode, and said Congress and the Obama administration shouldn’t place a greater financial burden on the already strapped agency.

“The taxpayer credit card is maxed out,” Bond said at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

“My constituents have been clear that they don’t want to wake up to learn that Congress has taken steps that leave the taxpayer holding the bag,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “That is exactly what could happen if the FHA is pushed to buy loans that could go bad soon or down the line.”

President Barack Obama’s housing secretary, Shaun Donovan, told senators that the FHA is “unlikely to face the catastrophic losses borne in the subprime sector.” That’s partly because the agency didn’t back loans for more expensive properties that have plummeted in value, particularly in places like California, he said.

As of February, 7.2 percent of loans backed by the FHA were either 90 days overdue or in foreclosure, up from 5.8 percent in August.

If losses surge too high, the agency would be forced to raise money – either by increasing insurance premiums on new borrowers or seeking a subsidy from taxpayers.

It’s too early to determine whether such a decision is imminent, officials said, but the current financial outlook is troubling.

PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225