Maine home sales decline in 2010, but prices climb

The Maine Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes fell nearly 3 percent in 2010 from 2009, but the median sale price rose during the year.

The group said real estate agents in Maine sold 10,213 single-family homes during the year, down from 10,486 in 2009. The median sale price was $168,750, up from $164,000 in 2009.

Franklin County had the biggest increase in home sales, at nearly 19 percent. The steepest decline, 12 percent, occurred in Penobscot County.

York County had the sharpest increase in median sale price, up 11 percent to $211,000.

CEO gets $1.75 million raise after Citigroup posts profit

Citigroup Inc. is giving its CEO a big raise.

The New York-based bank is lifting Vikram Pandit’s base salary to $1.75 million from just $1 a year effective immediately, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

The announcement comes after Citi reported its first full year of profits since Pandit took over the top job in 2007 and the bank exited government ownership.

Citi was one of the hardest-hit U.S. banks during the credit crisis, and received a $45 billion government bailout. Pandit in 2009 pledged to take a $1 salary until the troubled bank returned to profitability. The government sold off the last of its stake in the bank in December for a profit of $12 billion.

Caterpillar urges stronger U.S. trade ties with China

Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar is urging a stronger trade relationship between the United States and China on the heels of the Chinese president’s visit to America.

The Peoria, Ill., company, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, said Friday it signed a memorandum of understanding as part of the U.S.-China Trade and Economic Forum that it hopes will support greater U.S. exports from Caterpillar in the future.

China is already one of the largest export markets for Caterpillar products, with more than $2 billion in products delivered there in the past five years. Caterpillar has more than 7,700 employees across China.

Sales data show recovery slowing in United Kingdom

Retail sales in Britain rose 2 percent by value in December compared to a year ago, less than the rate of inflation, while volume was flat, an official report said Friday. It added to indications that the nation’s economic recovery is slowing.

Banks, meanwhile, reported that gross mortgage lending hit another 10-year low in December.

Snow during the coldest winter in a century helped knock sales volume down 0.8 percent from November, the Office for National Statistics said Friday.

Sales volume by predominantly food stores fell 3.4 percent compared to a year earlier, a record drop, while nonfood store volume was up 3.1 percent, the report said.

FDIC adds four more banks to nationwide closure list

Regulators have closed banks in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Colorado, bringing to seven the number of closures in 2011 following last year’s toll of 157 bank failures amid the limping economy and mounting bad loans.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday took over the banks, the largest by far being United Western Bank, based in Denver, with $2.05 billion in assets.

Also seized were Bank of Asheville, based in Asheville, N.C., with $195.1 million in assets; CommunitySouth Bank and Trust, based in Easley, S.C., with $440.6 million in assets; and Enterprise Banking Co. of McDonough, Ga., with $100.9 million in assets.