MDU Resources sells Brazil Lines

MDU Resources Group  announced that it has closed on the sale of its ownership interests in three electric transmission lines in Brazil. Two buyers have purchased 84.4 percent of the company's ownership interests for approximately US$70 million.

One buyer will purchase the remaining 15.6 percent of the company's ownership interests in equal annual installments over a four-year period. Proceeds from this sale would be equivalent to an additional US$12.7 million at today's exchange rate.

Read more: MDU Resources sells Brazil Lines

Cablevision Acquires Bresnan Communications

Cablevision Systems Corporation has acquired Bresnan Communications.

Bresnan, which is majority owned by Providence Equity Partners, will be acquired under a newly-formed subsidiary of Cablevision, in a transaction valued at $1.365 billion.

The purchase is the result of an auction with competing bids coming from companies like TPG Capital, BC Partners Ltd., Suddenlink Communications, Ascent Media Corp, and Charter Communications, Inc.

Read more: Cablevision Acquires Bresnan Communications

MDU Subsidiary Purchases Natural Gas Properties

Fidelity Exploration & Production Company, the wholly owned natural gas and oil production subsidiary of MDU Resources Group (NYSE: MDU), announced that it signed a purchase and sale agreement on March 15, to acquire producing natural gas properties located in the Green River Basin in Sweetwater and Carbon counties in southwest Wyoming.

Based on estimates by Fidelity’s reservoir engineers, the acquired properties include 63 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) of proven reserves of which 51 Bcfe is proved developed producing. In addition, the acquisition includes an additional estimated unproven reserve potential of 67 Bcfe to 190 Bcfe based primarily on infill drilling opportunities. Net production as of the effective date of the transaction was approximately 14.5 million cubic feet equivalent per day, 92 percent of which was natural gas. Approximately 63 percent of the daily production will be from wells operated by Fidelity.

Read more: MDU Subsidiary Purchases Natural Gas Properties

Retail Staple Food Prices Edge Higher

Retail food prices at the supermarket increased slightly during the second quarter of 2010, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $47.20, up $1.66 or 4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010. The total average price for the 16 items increased about 2 percent compared to one year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter.

Read more: Retail Staple Food Prices Edge Higher

Nonresidential Construction Gains

In a sure sign that the construction season is underway, the nonresidential construction industry gained 9,200 jobs in April, according to the May 7 employment report by the U.S. Labor Department. In the past two months, nonresidential construction employment has grown by 21,500 jobs. However, the nonresidential construction industry has lost 51,200 jobs, or 6.9 percent, since April 2009, and nonresidential construction employment now stands at 690,200.



Fidelity Acquires Interest in Bakken

Fidelity Exploration & Production Company has announced the acquisition of additional leasehold interests in the Bakken area of western North Dakota, and in the emerging oil shale play in the Niobrara formation in southeastern Wyoming and north-central Colorado. Fidelity is a wholly owned natural gas and oil production subsidiary of MDU Resources Group (NYSE: MDU).

The Bakken lease purchase includes approximately 40,000 net acres with the Three Forks play as the primary target. The acquired leases have three to five year primary terms and increase the company’s acreage position in the Bakken to approximately 56,000 net acres. In the Niobrara oil shale play, the company has signed an agreement to acquire approximately 27,000 net acres with five-year primary lease terms.

Read more: Fidelity Acquires Interest in Bakken

Knife River Gets $30 million in Minnesota Contracts

Knife River Materials - Northern Minnesota Division will have a busy summer, working on three large Minnesota Department of Transportation projects. The division has secured contracts totaling more than $30 million to repave sections of Minnesota Trunk Highways 11, 71 and 2.

The $13 million Trunk Highway 11 work consists of approximately 18.4 miles of grading, milling, hot-mix asphalt overlay and culvert replacement. This project is located in Koochiching County near the Canadian border.

Read more: Knife River Gets $30 million in Minnesota Contracts

Construction Materials Prices Rise in March

“With construction activity in China moving steadily ahead, as well as projects in the U.S. funded by stimulus money, ABC members should continue to anticipate construction material price increases in the months ahead.” —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu

Prices for construction materials and supplies shot up for the fifth straight month, increasing 1.3 percent in March, according to April 22 producer price index (PPI) report by the U.S. Labor Department. Over the first quarter of 2010, construction materials prices increased by 2.6 percent. On a year-over-year basis, construction materials prices are up 4.8 percent.



Construction Backlog Indicator Down 9 Percent in January

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) reports that its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) sharply declined by 9 percent between November 2009 and January 2010. CBI has slipped 16.3 percent during the last year and currently stands at 5.5 months, the lowest point reported in the 15 months ABC has gathered data. CBI is a forward-looking indicator that measures the amount of construction work under contract to be completed in the future.

"The fact that the CBI is now at its lowest point since ABC began measuring the statistic in November 2008 indicates that the nation's nonresidential construction industry remains mired in its own recession," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Read more: Construction Backlog Indicator Down 9 Percent in January

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