Thursday AM July 26th, 2007

Grubb & Ellis notes industrial market rebound...Refineries operate above 90 percent capacity for fourth straight week...Reliant Energy for overfilling residual waste landfill at Pennsylvania generating plant...

The nationwide industrial market rebounded in the second quarter, according to Grubb & Ellis, which credits the recovery to burgeoning imports. Increased imports creates demand for distribution centers. Also credited is manufacturing, outside of the still-weak home construction and domestic auto sales. Industrial space under construction soared by 23 percent in the first half of 2007 to more than 140 million square feet. Grubb & Ellis says the economy overall is in good shape, despite problems in the subprime mortgage market. The company expects demand for distribution space to remain robust, particularly around seaports, airports and inland ports.

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association's monthly Leasing and Financing Index reports new business volume increased by 13.6 percent in June, compared to the same month a year ago. New business volume for the first half of 2007 was ten percent higher than the same period last year. Five components are in the survey: new business volume, aging receivables, charge-offs, credit approval and headcount for leasing and finance business, which tracks stability.

The Department of Energy reports gasoline stockpiles rose by 800,000 barrels last week. Analysts had forecast an increase of 510,000 barrels. Supplies of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, were up 1.5 million barrels, while crude oil inventories were down by 1.1 million barrels. Refineries operated at 91.7 percent of capacity. That's the fourth straight week above 90 percent.

Pennsylvania has fined Houston-based Reliant Energy $120,000 for overfilling a residual waste landfill at a coal-fired electrical generating plant, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says nearly 12 acres of the 50-acre site were overfilled by an average of two feet. But violations at the New Castle Generating Station in Taylor Township do not pose an environmental threat, according to the department.

Houston-based Crown Castle International has leased its Modeo broadcast spectrum for $13 million a year to Telcom Ventures and Columbia Capital, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Modeo venture had been an effort to branch out from Crown Castle's main business of leasing access on its cellular towers. Modeo never reached deals with wireless providers to deploy the service commercially. It had been operating a test of Modeo in New York City.

The Houston Independent School District is holding a job fair this Saturday at Butler Field House on South Main. HISD is seeking bus drivers, custodians, school crossing guards and other non-instructional employees in a series of job fairs. The district is hiring about 80 bus drivers, 60 custodians, 20 mechanic helpers and 20 transportation assistants.

Dallas-based electric utility TXU Corporation says its chief executive will resign after its acquisition by a group of private equity firms is completed. TXU says John Wilder will stay with the company as chairman and chief executive if the deal isn't approved. But the company says it still recommends shareholder approval for the buyout offer from a consortium led by the firm's New York-based KKR and Fort Worth-based TPG. That's despite changes in market conditions since the deal was announced. The shareholder vote on the deal is now set for September 7th. Holders of record as of July 19th will be entitled to vote on the offer. Since the $32 billion sale was announced, TXU promised to cut prices until 2008 and stop plans to build eight of 11 coal-fired power plants that were opposed by environmentalists.

Nabors Industries is selling its Sea Mar Fleet to Louisiana offshore vessel provider Hornbeck Offshore Services in a $186 million deal. The Houston Business Journal says that includes ten of its 200 class DP-1 new-generation offshore supply vessels and ten conventional OSVs.

Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City will be getting nonstop service to Cleveland starting September 30th. Continental Express will make two nonstop flights each day to and from Cleveland using 50-seat regional jets. Houston-based Continental says the addition will give the Oklahoma City airport 11 new nonstop flights since last September. Continental's Cleveland hub offers 240 daily departures to more than 80 destinations. Meanwhile, Fort Worth-based American Airlines says it will replace its 44-seat regional jets at Lawton-Fort Sill Airport with smaller jets. American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely says the larger jets are needed elsewhere and will be replaced with 34-seat planes.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission says Entergy Corporation is trying to avoid state regulation of its production costs. The state PSC made the accusation in a motion filed Monday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Entergy operates subsidiaries in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and southeast Texas. Entergy Arkansas is the largest provider of electricity in the state, with about 680,000 customers in 63 Arkansas counties. The Arkansas panel objected to what it called an attempt by the utility to have federal regulators pre-empt state regulation of Entergy Arkansas and its other subsidiaries. The Arkansas regulators were joined by the city council of New Orleans and the Mississippi Public Service Commission in its filing before the federal panel. Customers of Entergy Arkansas are already paying higher rates--totaling about $230.7 million this year alone. That's because of an earlier ruling by the FERC that production costs must be roughly shared by all the companies in the Entergy system. The PSC's filing related to a filing by Entergy with the FERC earlier this month. In that filing, Entergy argued that the feds have exclusive jurisdiction over any production costs that factor in the equalization payments made through the system agreement.

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