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The Baltimore Sun

Carrollton Bank parent reports 3Q net loss

Carrollton Bancorp, the parent company of its namesake bank, has reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $259,744, or 10 cents per diluted share, compared with a profit of $259,708, or 9 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Results from the three months ending Dec. 31, reported yesterday, included a loan loss provision of $1.1 million, compared with $272,000 a year ago. For the year, the bank said net income declined 60 percent to $847,000 or 32 cents per diluted share, from $2.1 million, or 75 cents per diluted share, in 2007. The bank also said yesterday that it expects to close next week on $9.2 million in funding under the federal government's Troubled Assets Relief Program, which sets aside $250 billion to inject cash into banks in exchange for shares.

Hanah Cho

Banks in Ga., Calif. fail; year's total reaches 9

WASHINGTON : Regulators closed FirstBank Financial Services in Georgia and two California banks, Alliance Bank and County Bank, yesterday, marking nine failures this year of federally insured institutions. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the three banks. FirstBank Financial, based in McDonough, Ga., had $337 million in assets and $279 million in deposits as of Dec. 31. Alliance Bank, based in Culver City, Calif., had about $1.14 billion in assets and $951 million in deposits as of year's end. Merced, Calif.-based County Bank had about $1.7 billion in assets and $1.3 billion in deposits as of Feb. 2. The FDIC said FirstBank Financial's deposits will be assumed by Regions Bank in Birmingham, Ala. Alliance Bank's deposits will be assumed by San Diego-based California Bank & Trust, which also agreed to buy about $1.12 billion in assets. Alliance Bank's five branches will reopen Monday as offices of California Bank & Trust. Westamerica Bank, based in San Rafael, Calif., agreed to purchase all the deposits and assets of County Bank. County Bank's 39 branches will reopen as branches of Westamerica, some today and others on Monday.

Associated Press

In face of losses, Toyota plans cutbacks

DETROIT: After losing $1.8 billion over its last financial quarter, Toyota Motor Corp. said yesterday that it plans to reduce its costs by an additional 10 percent across all major parts of its operations in an effort to deal with sharp declines in demand for new cars in North America and Europe. The areas targeted for cost cuts include capital expenditures, plant expansions, production and employment costs - moves that cast further doubt on the status of Toyota's plant in Blue Springs, Miss. Toyota made the announcement after reporting that it now expects to report a net loss of 350 billion yen, or $3.85 billion, for its full fiscal year, which ends in March. The expected loss will be a stunning downturn for Toyota, long the world's most profitable automaker.

Detroit Free Press

New SEC chairman streamlines enforcement

WASHINGTON: The new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission is ending a practice that she said had slowed the agency's enforcement efforts against corporate wrongdoing. In her first public address as SEC chairman, Mary Schapiro said yesterday that she was ending a two-year policy requiring agency enforcement attorneys to get approval from the commissioners before negotiating fines and penalties with companies accused of violations. It is among the steps she said she is taking to revitalize the SEC's enforcement efforts and bolster investor protection. But the private sector also has to do its part to help restore investor confidence, she told a gathering of securities lawyers and SEC staff members. "There needs to be a new era of responsibility on Wall Street and throughout our markets to ensure that wrongs don't occur in the first place," Schapiro said.

Associated Press

Consumer borrowing down for third month

WASHINGTON: Consumer borrowing fell for a third straight month in December, the longest stretch in 17 years, as households cut spending amid a steep recession and rising job layoffs. The Federal Reserve said yesterday that consumer borrowing dropped at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in December. The $6.6 billion decline was nearly double what analysts expected. It followed an $11 billion drop in November that was the biggest monthly plunge on records going back to 1943. The weakness in December reflected a big 7.8 percent decline in the category that includes credit card debt, and a 0.2 percent drop in the category that includes auto loans. The cutback in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity, is the major reason the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, contracted at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the final three months of last year. That was the biggest drop in the GDP since 1982. Consumer spending fell in both the third and fourth quarters last year, the first back-to-back declines since the 1990-91 recession. The three straight months of declines in consumer borrowing was the longest stretch of weakness since a seven-month plunge that ended in December 1991.

Associated Press

No nationalization, B of A chief says

CHARLOTTE, N.C. : Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Ken Lewis capped off a week of defending his bank and his role in it yesterday by firing back against rumors that his company could be in danger of nationalization. "It's absurd," Lewis said in an interview on CNBC, adding that he knows of no government officials who have talked about nationalizing the bank. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other top officials are close to finishing a plan to overhaul the government's $700 billion financial rescue fund. Some investors in recent days have been worried that the government's latest revisions to its lifeline for banks would involve nationalizing many banks. Earlier in the week, Lewis spent almost a million dollars buying shares of his struggling bank and posted a memo to employees that said the bank's board "unanimously endorsed our business model, strategic direction and the team," at its regular meeting Jan. 28. Bank of America shares rose $1.29, or 26.7 percent, to close at $6.13 yesterday, after falling to a 25-year low - or $3.77 - in trading Thursday afternoon.

Associated Press

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