IN BRIEF

Gold Spike owner buys apartment complex

The company that bought the Gold Spike casino downtown isn’t done building the residential portion of its Las Vegas portfolio.

Last week the Siegel Group closed a deal to buy the Mark Twain Apartments at 955 E. Twain Avenue for $14.5 million.

Sasco Properties, a division of the Siegel Group, will operate the 228-unit complex under the name Siegel Suites Twain II. The company plans to renovate the apartments to catch up on deferred maintenance and convert it to flexible-stay style rentals.

Since moving into Las Vegas in 2004, the Siegel Group has developed more than 2,700 rental units in Las Vegas, Reno and Mesquite, including the Twain building.

The company also spent $21 million on the Gold Spike.

Proxy filings reveal utility execs’ payouts

Walt Higgins, who retired as chief executive officer last year and remains as chairman of Sierra Pacific Resources, last year made $6.27 million in direct compensation, including $848,000 in cash, according to a Wednesday proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The larger number includes restricted shares he was given because the company regained its investment-grade bond ratings.

New CEO Michael Yackira received $2.88 million in direct compensation, including $978,000 in cash.

Commissioners OK plans for Plaza Hotel

Clark County commissioners have given final approval to plans for a $6 billion Strip casino resort modeled after the Plaza Hotel in New York.

There was no mention during a brief public presentation by representatives of Elad IDB of reports earlier this week that the project was stalling due to a shaky credit market.

On Monday, Elad chief Miki Naftali said the project was “forging ahead as planned.”

Elad also owns The Plaza in New York.

A Las Vegas-based spokesman for the company says groundbreaking could take place later this year on the 3,500-room project. It’s slated to open in 2011.

NEW YORK

Morgan Stanley profits top Street expectations

Morgan Stanley posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Wednesday.

The nation’s second-largest investment bank was able to parlay aggressive stock and bond trading into offsetting more losses linked to subprime mortgages.

The company said it earned $1.53 billion after preferred dividends, or $1.45 per share, down 42 percent from $2.66 billion, or $2.17 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast profit of $1.03 per share.

Revenue fell 17 percent to $8.3 billion from $10 billion.

NEW YORK

Data on demand send prices for oil lower

Oil prices pulled back Wednesday after government data suggested high prices for oil and gasoline are depressing demand for petroleum products.

Consumption of oil and its products fell by 3.2 percent over the past four weeks from the same period last year, the EIA said. Demand for gasoline fell by 1 percent over the same period.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell $4.94 to settle at $104.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the largest one-day price decline for a front-month oil contract since 1991. The April contract expired at the end of Wednesday’s session, and trading was much heavier in May oil futures, which fell $5.96 to settle at $102.54 a barrel on the Nymex.

WASHINGTON

Requirements relaxed for lending agencies

The government on Wednesday relaxed capital requirements at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of a plan to quickly inject an additional $200 billion of financing for home loans.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which oversees the government-sponsored companies, said the mandatory cash cushion for Fannie and Freddie — now nearly $20 billion for the two — will be reduced by a third under the new plan.

The capital requirement for each company will be reduced from the current 30 percent to 20 percent, and further reductions will be considered by the regulator in the future.

Paris court frees trader at center of scandal

A Paris court on Tuesday freed Jerome Kerviel, the trader accused of causing record losses at French bank Societe Generale, pending investigation.

SocGen unveiled $7.64 billion of losses in January in the biggest trading scandal in history, which it said was caused by rogue deals carried out by Kerviel, a junior trader at the bank.

Kerviel may not enter a trading room or an exchange, may not engage in activities related to financial markets and must present himself weekly at a police station.

NEW YORK

Treasurys rally amid credit crisis worries

Treasurys staged a massive rally Wednesday, as fears about continuing fallout from the credit crisis prompted investors to seek safe assets ahead of a long holiday weekend.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.56 points to 100.72 with a yield of 3.41 percent, down from 3.50 percent late Tuesday, according to BGCantor Market Data.

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