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The Baltimore Sun

General Growth sells Columbia office park

General Growth Properties, the Chicago-based firm that is the master developer and owner of Harborplace and other shopping malls, has sold an office park in Columbia for $42.2 million, according to a company official. The sale of six one-story buildings totaling 306,000 square feet in the Rivers Corporate Park on Guilford Road is the first local property GGP has sold since announcing last week that it was seeking to sell assets to deal with a looming debt and uncertain economic climate. But Lucandre Picotte, General Growth's vice president for asset management, said the park has been for sale for the past several months and was sold because it doesn't fit in with the firm's shopping mall holdings. General Growth also is seeking a major redevelopment of central Columbia, a 30-year plan submitted to Howard County officials Wednesday. General Growth is managing a large debt incurred by buying the former Rouse Co. in 2004 for $12 billion, making the firm more vulnerable to the credit crunch affecting the financial industry nationally. The Rivers Corporate Park buildings, sold to First Potomac Realty Trust, were built in the mid-1980s. The park is just south of Route 32 and just east of Route 29. DTZ Rockwood represented General Growth in the transaction.

Larry Carson

Marriott shows lower third-quarter profit

BETHESDA : Hotel company Marriott International Inc. said yesterday that its third-quarter profit dropped 28 percent, compared with the same period last year, and it warned investors about deteriorating conditions for 2009 amid the continuing financial crisis. Marriott said its revenue per available room declined in North America and time-share sales dried up amid the tight credit market and cutbacks in business and consumer spending. Revenue per available room, or revpar, is considered a key gauge of a hotelier's performance. Marriott is the first major hotel company to report third-quarter earnings. Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Jake Fuller said the company's gloomy projections "set a bad tone for the group."

Associated Press

SEC extends short-sell ban for financials

WASHINGTON: Federal regulators on Wednesday extended an unprecedented ban against all short-selling in the shares of more than 800 financial companies, keeping it in place at least until after Congress enacts a financial bailout plan. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the extension of the ban, which was enacted Sept. 18 in a bid to shore up investor confidence in the face of the spiraling market crisis. The ban, which was to expire yesterday, now will last until the third business day after enactment of the $700 billion bailout plan before Congress.

Associated Press

30-year mortgage rates rise for second week

WASHINGTON: Rates on 30-year mortgages have risen for a second straight week, climbing to the highest level in a month. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported yesterday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.10 percent this week, up slightly from 6.09 percent last week. It was the highest level since 30-year mortgages averaged 6.35 percent for the week ending Sept. 4. Financial markets have been turbulent in recent weeks as demand for safe Treasury securities has pushed those yields down sharply while rates on other types of corporate bonds have been pushed higher by growing concerns about whether the bonds will be repaid. Mortgage rates, have also been on a roller coaster, hitting a high for the year of 6.63 percent in late July and then dropping below 6 percent in mid-September.

Associated Press

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