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VOL. 128 | NO. 96 | Thursday, May 16, 2013

Daily Digest

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Renaissance Group Files Loan on Lakeland Office

Architecture and engineering firm Renaissance Group has filed a $1.7 million loan on its headquarters at 9700 Village Circle in Lakeland.

Operating as RG Development LLC, the locally owned company filed the deed of trust, assignment of rents and security agreement May 10 through Renasant Bank. Michael E. Terry signed the deed as chief managing officer of Renaissance Group.

Built in 2005, the 12,804-square-foot, Class B office building sits on 1.4 acres on the west side of Village Circle near East Davies Plantation Road. The company also owns a 1.2-acre vacant parcel that fronts East Davies Plantation and is adjacent to the property housing the firm’s office building.

RG Development bought the land for its headquarters for $750,000 in 2005 from W.L.L., a Tennessee General Partnership.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

EPayment America Launches Social Commerce Tool

Christopher Reckert, president and CEO of Memphis-based ePaymentAmerica, has created a new social commerce tool called Yapyzal, which launched this week.

The tool is intended to allow businesses to design and share product offers on social media sites, then complete the sale via secure credit and debit card processing without leaving the social media platform.

The service is first launching on Facebook. It’s powered by ePaymentAmerica, which provides customer service and billing for the new service. And the goal is to eventually extend the service to other social networking platforms.

EPaymentAmerica is a wholesale merchant service provider, with customers in all 50 states.

– Andy Meek

Wunderlich Adds Advisers in Three Cities

Wunderlich Securities Inc. has added new financial advisers in a few offices, including in Memphis.

In Memphis, Jenny King has joined Wunderlich as a financial adviser from Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. There, she had served as director of marketing for retail fixed-income trading for nine years. Her responsibilities at Morgan Keegan also included the coordination of the fixed-income marketing initiatives for a sales force of more than 1,200 advisers and product development.

Memphis-based Wunderlich also recently added advisers in Houston and Dallas.

– Andy Meek

US Factory Output Falls 0.4 Percent in April

U.S. manufacturers cut back on production in April, as auto companies cranked out fewer cars, factories made fewer consumer goods and most other industries reduced output. The weakness suggests economic growth may be slowing this spring.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that factory output dropped 0.4 percent in April, the third decline in four months.

Production of autos and auto parts fell 1.3 percent in April. The drop is likely temporary because automakers are reporting stronger sales.

Still, the declines in April were broad-based. Factories produced fewer machines, electrical equipment, clothes, appliances, furniture and primary metals. Manufacturers made more computers and electronic products, among the few areas that showed gains.

Factories are making fewer goods in part because of a weaker global economy, which has reduced demand for U.S. exports. And exports are likely to stay sluggish because the recession of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro has extended into its sixth quarter.

Overall industrial production, which also includes output at utilities and mines, dropped 0.5 percent in April. That’s the biggest decline since August. Utility production plunged 3.7 percent, as power output returned to more normal levels after an unusually cold March.

A separate regional manufacturing report indicated that factory activity in the New York region shrank in May, signaling further weakness. The New York Federal Reserve Bank’s Empire State manufacturing survey fell to 1.4 in May, down from 3.1 in April.

Still, there are some signs that factory output could pick up later this year, particularly in the auto industry.

Ford, GM, Chrysler and Nissan all reported double-digit U.S. sales increases, signaling the best April for car and truck sales in six years. Car sales have risen steadily this year after reaching a five-year high in 2012.

– The Associated Press

US Wholesale Prices Fall 0.7 Percent

Sharp drops in fuel and food costs reduced a measure of U.S. wholesale prices in April by the most in three years. Outside those volatile categories, inflation stayed tame.

The producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in April from March, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It was the second straight monthly decline and the steepest since February 2010.

Lower inflation means the Federal Reserve has more leeway to continue its aggressive policies to boost economic growth. If there were signs that inflation was picking up, the Fed might be forced to raise interest rates.

The index declined largely because gas prices dropped 6 percent and the price of home heating oil fell by the most in almost four years.

Food prices also fell 0.8 percent, the most since May 2011. Half of the decline was because of lower vegetable prices, a highly volatile category. Meat prices dropped 2.3 percent.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices ticked up 0.1 percent in April from March. Pharmaceutical costs rose 0.1 percent. Metal furniture prices jumped 1.7 percent.

Prices for cars and pickup trucks, men’s clothes, tires and computers all declined.

Overall wholesale prices have increased just 0.6 percent over the past 12 months. That’s the smallest yearly gain since July and down from a 1.7 percent pace just two months ago.

Core prices have risen only 1.7 percent in the past 12 months and are just below the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.

Aside from sharp swings in gas prices, consumer and wholesale inflation has increased slowly in the past year. The combination of modest economic growth and high unemployment has kept wages from rising quickly. That’s made it harder for retailers and other firms to raise prices.

Some of the price declines are being passed on to consumers. Economists forecast that the consumer price index fell 0.1 percent in April. If accurate, that would lower the annual pace of inflation, which was just 1.5 percent in March.

The government will report on April consumer prices Thursday.

– The Associated Press

Online Health Assessment Urged for Baby Boomers

Tennessee health officials are urging people to take a five-minute online assessment about whether they are at risk for hepatitis C.

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner said baby boomers are five time more likely than the general population to have the disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the assessment online at http://www.cdc.gov/HEPATITIS/riskassessment.

Dreyzehner said it’s important to know if one has any form of hepatitis. The A and B forms can be prevented with vaccines, and hepatitis C can be cured if treated early.

The risk assessment gives people guidance about whether they should see a medical provider for testing.

– The Associated Press

Foreign Holdings of Treasury Debt Up in March

Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in March even though China, the largest foreign holder of Treasury debt, reduced its holdings slightly. The overall increase indicated that foreign investors remain confident in holding U.S. debt.

The Treasury Department says total foreign holdings of Treasury securities increased 0.7 percent in March compared with February to a record $5.76 trillion.

That is an increase of 11.9 percent over a year ago.

China’s holdings dipped by 0.1 percent to $1.25 trillion. Japan, the second-largest holder, also trimmed its holdings to $1.11 trillion, down 0.1 percent.

The third largest holder, five countries in the Caribbean including the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands, saw their holdings rise 3.9 percent to $291.3 billion.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149