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VOL. 129 | NO. 183 | Friday, September 19, 2014

Daily Digest

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Landmark Bank Buys East Memphis Building

Landmark Community Bank has acquired an East Memphis office building.

Landmark acquired the 9,255-square-foot office building at 5880 Ridge Bend Road from the Reaves Family Partnership in a Sept. 4 warranty deed for $1.1 million.

The Class B building built in 2006 sits on a 0.9-acre site on the northern portion of Ridge Bend Road, which connects Ridge Lake Boulevard and Ridgeway Loop Road. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2014 appraisal is $1.2 million.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Amos Maki

New Online Store to Sell Tigers Gear

T-Shirt Champions, formerly Champion Awards & Apparel, has announced the launch of Memphis Tiger Shop, an online store where Memphis Tigers fans can purchase University of Memphis gear and products.

The shop, at memphistigershop.com, lets customers choose from an initial selection of 50 Tigers-branded products, with the selection expanding to 200 options over the next year.

The company has been a licensed printer and embroiderer for the University of Memphis since 1982 and says it chose to launch the website in response to the demand for online ordering of University of Memphis gear.

– Andy Meek

Governor to Swear In Newest Tennessee Justice

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby, the court's newest member, will take the oath of office during an investiture ceremony in Memphis Friday, Sept. 19.

Gov. Bill Haslam, who appointed Kirby to the Supreme Court, will administer the oath at 10:15 a.m. in the Historic Courtroom on the third floor of the University of Memphis School of Law. A reception will follow.

Kirby, of Memphis, was the first woman to serve on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which she joined in 1995. She is also the first graduate of the University of Memphis School of Law to serve on the Supreme Court.

– The Associated Press

Alexander, Ball to Debate at Candidate Forum

Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and his Democratic challenger Gordon Ball will share the same stage Oct. 16 at the Tennessee Farm Bureau candidate forum in Cookeville, Tenn.

Word of the gathering came as Ball had been calling on Alexander to debate him in the campaign to the Nov. 4 statewide general election.

Alexander, in a written statement, said the forum is “a good opportunity to remind Tennesseans that my opponent is just one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda, and that a vote for me is a vote for a new Senate majority that will lead the country in a different and more conservative direction.”

Ball is courting tea party members who backed state Rep. Joe Carr in Carr’s challenge of Alexander in the August Republican primary and is stressing his opposition to Common Core education standards as well as immigration amnesty.

Alexander campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger said Ball’s immigration platform is “a path to citizenship without any mention of a penalty, which is the very definition of amnesty.”

Ball has said immigrants who came to the country illegally should be put “at the back of the line if they want to be a citizen and get in line the way you are supposed to get in line.”

– Bill Dries

US Unemployment Benefit Applications Fall Sharply

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped by a sharp 36,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 280,000, a sign that the job market is strengthening.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 299,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. The total number of people collecting benefits during the first week of September was 2.43 million, the fewest since May 2007.

Applications for unemployment benefits remain at pre-recession levels. The number of people seeking benefits has been trending downward for the past four months.

Over the past year, the four-week average for applications has fallen 7.1 percent. In 2009, during the Great Recession, they topped 650,000.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When fewer people seek benefits, it suggests that employers are keeping their workers, likely because they are more confident about customer demand and may be ready to hire.

The drop in the number of people applying for benefits has been coupled by steady job growth, despite a slowdown in hiring in August.

Employers added just 142,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department, down from 212,000 in July. That followed a six-month streak of monthly job gains in excess of 200,000. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, but only because some of those out of work gave up looking. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for a job.

– The Associated Press

Wal-Mart to Increase Holiday Hiring 10 Percent

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it plans to hire 60,000 temporary holiday workers for the crucial holiday season, an increase of nearly 10 percent from last year.

The world's largest retailer also emphasized that current workers who want more hours during the holidays will get priority. The retailer has been criticized by labor groups for low pay and intentionally keeping employees' hours low.

Wal-Mart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said the holiday hiring includes workers in stores and distribution centers. The discount retailer said a number of factors are driving the increase, including a focus on better customer service and the fact that it has about 200 more U.S. Wal-Mart stores than last year, bringing its total to about 4,300.

"We monitor traffic patterns, and we want to make sure we have adequate staffing,” said Kayla Whaling, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

About 25 percent of the seasonal workers will stay on in permanent roles, Wal-Mart said.

Wal-Mart also noted that the retailer will have more registers open this year during the season compared with last year. It couldn't offer a figure.

The news follows similar announcements from UPS, FedEx and Kohl's, which are also making more temporary hires this year.

A retailer's hiring plans can indicate its expectations for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

– The Associated Press

Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate at 4.23 Percent

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates surged this week, marking their largest one-week gain this year.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year loan jumped to 4.23 percent from 4.12 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, rose to 3.37 percent from 3.26 percent.

At 4.23 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage is at its highest level since the week ended May 1, though it is still at a historically low level.

Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.62 percent Wednesday, up sharply from 2.54 percent a week earlier. It was trading at 2.63 percent Thursday morning. Bond yields rise when bond prices fall.

The increase in the yield on the benchmark Treasury bond was stoked by speculation in financial markets that the Federal Reserve might abandon its nearly 6-year-old policy of keeping short-term rates at record lows. But at their meeting this week that ended Wednesday, Fed policymakers decided to keep the low rates, at least for a few more months.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee for a 15-year mortgage also remained at 0.5 point.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396