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VOL. 128 | NO. 111 | Friday, June 7, 2013

Daily Digest

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Owner Files $4.3 Million Loan on Serenity Towers

The owner of the Serenity Towers at Midtown Memphis retirement community at 400 S. Highland St. has filed a $4.3 million loan on the property.

Orlando, Fla.-based Serenity Towers at Midtown Memphis LLC filed the deed of trust, security agreement and assignment of rents and leases May 29 through CenterState Bank of Florida NA.

The borrower bought the property, formerly known as Highland Towers, in 2010 for $1.8 million from Seattle-based New Wesley Highland Towers Associates. That sale was financed with a $3.2 million loan through the Glenda G. Morgan Charitable Foundation Inc.

The Class C, high-rise retirement center sits on 2.8 acres on the east side of Highland Street between Norriswood and Watauga avenues near the University of Memphis.

It was built in 1964.

The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal is $3.9 million.

The borrower, Serenity Towers at Midtown Memphis, is affiliated with Elevation Financial Group.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Fred’s Key Revenue Metric Falls 0.5 Percent for May

Discount retailer Fred’s Inc. said Thursday its May revenue at stores open at least a year fell 0.5 percent, as unusually cool weather continued to reduce demand for summer items.

The drop was smaller than Wall Street expected. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a decrease of 0.8 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer’s health, because it excludes revenue at stores that recently opened or closed.

Total sales for the four-week period ended June 1 increased 0.2 percent to $152.4 million from $152.1 million a year ago.

CEO Bruce Efird said unseasonal cool and wet weather in May continued to reduce sales of lawn and garden items, summer toys and other seasonal merchandise. Sales at the company’s pharmacy department also were hurt by the continued shift toward generic drugs, he said.

For the first four months of the year, revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1.1 percent, while total sales increased 0.2 percent to $653.9 million.

Fred’s operates 715 stores, including 21 franchised stores, in the southeastern U.S.

– The Associated Press

County Pension Fund Hits Another Record High

The value of the pension fund that pays benefits to Shelby County retirees is back up to a high not seen since 2007.

The portfolio size of the county’s retirement defined benefit plan stood at $1.02 billion in April. The last time the value was higher than that was in December 2007.

Also, the fund for each of the first four months of 2013 has surpassed the monthly values for each of the first four months of 2012.

A retirement fund official said the recent highs in the stock market partly explain the fund’s recent performance.

– Andy Meek

School Board to Meet on Cell Phones, Punishment

The countywide school board meets in special session Tuesday, June 11, to consider another slate of policies for the consolidated school district.

The slate includes recommendations from a schools board committee on the policies for cell phones and corporal punishment.

The committee this week recommended the school system go with a cell phone policy that permits students to have cell phones on campus as long as they are off and stored in lockers or other places approved by school administrators.

The policy closely resembles Shelby County Schools policy.

Memphis City Schools policy banned the phones from campuses whether they were on or off.

The committee recommendation on corporal punishment mirrors the outright ban on the punishment that Memphis City Schools adopted more than a decade ago.

– Bill Dries

US Regains Wealth Unequally From Recession

America as a whole has regained all the household wealth it lost to the Great Recession and then some, thanks to higher stock and home prices.

The average household still has a long way to go.

The Federal Reserve says U.S. household wealth jumped $3 trillion to $70.3 trillion in the January-March quarter this year.

That tops the previous peak of $68 trillion in the third quarter of 2007, just before the recession began.

The recession cost Americans $15.6 trillion in wealth.

Yet because of inflation and a rising population, the average household has recovered only about 45 percent of the wealth it lost.

Affluent households have benefited most from the nation’s recovered wealth because most of the gain has come from higher stock prices.

– The Associated Press

Mississippi Economy Grew 2.4 Percent in 2012

New figures show that Mississippi’s economy grew by 2.4 percent in 2012.

Gross domestic product numbers released Thursday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis try to measure all of the economic output of each state.

Mississippi’s 2012 growth rate was close to the national average of 2.5 percent, and ranked 17th among the 50 states. That was a marked improvement from 2011, when Mississippi’s economy shrank by 1.1 percent, one of only five states to contract.

Federal figures show the biggest contributor to growth in Mississippi last year came from makers of durable goods such as cars.

Only three times in the last 15 years has Mississippi’s economy grown faster than the nation.

Mississippi retained the lowest per-capita gross domestic product of any state, at $28,944 per person.

– The Associated Press

US Unemployment Benefit Applications Fall to 346,000

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 11,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, a level consistent with steady job growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications dropped from 357,000 the previous week, which was revised up from an initially reported 354,000. The less volatile four-week average rose 4,500 to 352,500.

Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen 7 percent in the past six months and hit a five-year low of 338,000 in early May.

Still, layoffs are only half of an improving jobs picture. The other is hiring, and companies have been reluctant to rapidly create many more jobs.

On Friday, the government reports on May employment. Economists expect it will show that employers added 170,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate is expected to remain a four-year low of 7.5 percent.

Economists were encouraged by the figures, which come after several tepid economic reports earlier this week.

More than 4.6 million Americans received unemployment benefits in the week ended May 18, the latest data available. That’s about 68,000 more than the previous week. The number of people receiving benefits briefly topped 11 million in 2010, the highest on record.

Job gains accelerated over the winter but have since softened, along with the broader economy.

Factory activity shrank in May for the first time since November, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives.

A separate ISM survey of service firms found that they grew at a faster pace last month. But a measure of employment in the report fell sharply. That suggests that service companies added fewer jobs. Service firms have been the main source of job gains in recent months.

There have been some positive signs of resilience in the economy. Service companies reported higher new orders. That suggests business could expand further in the coming months.

And steady gains in home sales and construction are providing crucial support for the economy.

Home prices jumped by the most in seven years in April, according a report by CoreLogic released Tuesday. Higher prices can make homeowners feel wealthier, spurring more spending.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 50 389 12,758
MORTGAGES 21 248 8,003
BUILDING PERMITS 295 813 29,934
BANKRUPTCIES 35 164 6,064