First Bancorp has 4th quarter dividend, 19.5 cents per share

Damariscotta-based The First Bancorp announced a fourth-quarter dividend to shareholders of 19.5 cents per share, unchanged from the previous nine quarters.

The dividend is payable on Jan. 28 to shareholders of record on Jan. 6.

First Bancorp President and CEO Daniel Daigneault said the company’s “generous cash dividends” are one reason shareholders continue to invest in the company.

Shares in the company dipped to $15.19 from $15.52 in morning trading.

First Bancorp, a holding company of The First, NA, has 14 branches in Lincoln, Knox, Hancock and Washington counties.

Market closes flat despite several signs of improvement

Stocks ended flat Friday as investors shrugged off encouraging economic signs and a tax-cut package expected to lift economic growth. Trading ended shortly before President Obama signed a tax bill into law.

The $850 billion package extends Bush-era tax cuts for another two years and expiring unemployment benefits through next year. House Democrats had pledged to block the tax proposal, a compromise worked out between Obama and Senate Republicans. But the House passed the bill late Thursday night. Critics said the cost didn’t justify the expected boost to economic growth.

In a hopeful sign for the economy, the Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 1.1 percent in November, the fastest pace since March. The index — which tracks data such as orders for new goods and materials — rose 0.4 percent in October.

Stocks wavered in a tight range Friday, a day after major indexes hit two-year highs. The Dow Jones industrial average edged lower on Friday, but added 82 points over the week. The index of 30 large company shares has now gained 400 points, or 3.6 percent, over the last three weeks.

The Dow Jones fell 7.34 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 11,491.91.

The broader S&P 500 eked out another 2010 high. The index rose 1.04, or 0.08 percent, to close at 1,243.91. The Nasdaq composite rose 5.66, or 0.2 percent, to 2,642.97.

Six banks closed, total in U.S. now stands at 157

Regulators Friday shuttered three small banks in Georgia and one each in Florida, Arkansas and Minnesota, raising to 157 the number of banks brought down this year by the struggling economy and soured loans.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over the three Georgia banks: Appalachian Community Bank of McCaysville, with $68.2 million in assets; Chestatee State Bank, based in Dawsonville, with $244.4 million in assets; and Atlanta-based United Americas Bank, with $242.3 million in assets.

The FDIC also seized Bank of Miami, based in Coral Gables, Fla., with $448.2 million in assets; First Southern Bank of Batesville, Ark., with $191.8 million in assets; and Community National Bank of Lino Lakes, Minn., $31.6 million in assets.

Florida has been the hardest hit state for bank failures, and Georgia also has registered many shutdowns. Bank of Miami was the 29th bank to fail in Florida this year, while the failures of the three Georgia banks brought the number there to 21. Other states with large numbers of bank failures are California and Illinois, amid an avalanche of bad loans, especially for commercial real estate.