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Fewer banks and jobs, bigger profits

Maryland banks continued dwindling in number and shedding jobs through the third quarter as they boosted their profits, new data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show.

As of Sept. 30, the state’s 81 reporting institutions — down from 85 a year earlier and 88 two years earlier — had 7,197 full-time equivalent employees, down from 7,215 and 8,159 a year and two years earlier, respectively.

But through the first nine months of the year, the institutions reported a total profit of $132 million, up from $70 million a year earlier. The institutions racked up a total net loss of $31 million through the first three quarter of 2010.

Total deposits have dipped, to $27.13 billion on Sept. 30. That’s down from $27.19 billion a year earlier and $28.21 billion two years earlier.

Also, total assets have fallen, to $33.25 billion from $33.9 billion and $34.91 billion at the end of the two previous years’ third quarters. The returns on those assets rose, however, to 0.54 percent this year from 0.29 percent a year earlier and a loss of 0.12 percent two years earlier.

Foreclosure sales drop in third quarter

The number of home foreclosure sales in Maryland in the third quarter fell 8.6 percent from the second quarter and 46.3 percent from the third quarter of 2011, according to new data from RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif.

The third-quarter total, 651 sales, accounted for 4 percent of all home sales, less than half the national average of 9.6 percent.

The average price of the foreclosure sales, $169,497, was down 5.5 percent from the second quarter, but up 3.6 percent from a year earlier. The average sales price represented a discount of 46.2 percent.

Prince George’s County accounted for about one-third of all third-quarter foreclosure sales in Maryland, with 220, or 9.3 percent of all the county’s home sales. Still, the number of foreclosure sales in Prince George’s was down 28.8 percent from the second quarter and 52.6 percent from a year earlier.

Business expectations down in region

Expectations are down among business executives in the Greater Washington, D.C. region, according to a new survey sponsored by the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

In the survey, 84 percent of regional business executives identified uncertainty in government policy as an obstacle to making business decisions. Also, 81 percent named the possibility of federal budget sequestration as an obstacle. Only 28 percent expect to add jobs and 46 percent expect their revenues and total sales to increase during the next year. Both of these expectations are down from 35 percent and 57 percent last year, respectively.

The survey also shows business confidence, measured by the annual Business Outlook index, to have fallen to 73 points from 81 during the last 14 months. This is the steepest drop since the annual survey began in 2009.

That said, 68 percent continue to rate current economic conditions as good in the region, versus 42 percent nationally.

Maryland arts’ impact: $1B annually

Arts organizations in Maryland generated a total of $518 million in direct spending and a total economic impact of $1 billion in fiscal 2011, according to a report from the Maryland State Arts Council. The industry also produced 11,434 full-time equivalent jobs — up 7.2 percent from the previous year — and paid $399 million in salaries.

About 7.9 million people attended arts events in the state in fiscal ’11, spending $320 million.

Organization revenues increased 27 percent from fiscal ’10, with ticket sales growing 13 percent. Every $1 of the organizations' operating budgets generates $3.64 in total economic activity, according to the study. The organizations also supported $37.8 million in state and local taxes.

The study surveyed 244 arts organizations.

National Aquarium generates more than $300M

The National Aquarium in Baltimore generated $319.6 million in economic impact and 3,347 jobs in 2012, according to a study from Sage Policy Group of Baltimore that was commissioned by the aquarium and released Wednesday.

The study evaluated both its Baltimore and Washington, D.C., venues, which together attract more than 1.5 million visitors annually.

Green Business program promoted on buses

The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce is joining with the county and Montgomery College to promote the Green Business certification program on local buses.

The advertisement lists the 42 current Green Certified businesses, which include Germantown satellite company Hughes Network Systems, Westover Consultants of Bethesda and the Montgomery chamber. The program started three years ago.

The program recently partnered with the University of Maryland, College Park to welcome four graduate students who are helping identify opportunities to enhance benefits for certified businesses.