Visiting nurse agencies plan to merge operations

Southern Maine Medical Center Visiting Nurses and HomeHealth Visiting Nurses will merge their operations, forming an agency that will be named HomeHealth Visiting Nurses.

HomeHealth Visiting Nurses’ headquarters will be in Saco, with offices in Kennebunk, Biddeford, Sanford, Bridgton and Portland, the agency announced this week. The agency will provide services throughout York, Cumberland and southern Oxford counties.

Patients receiving care from clinicians in either agency will not be affected by the merger, according to officials at HomeHealth Visiting Nurses. The merger is effective Dec. 1, pending final state approvals.

SMMC Visiting Nurses has 60 employees, and HomeHealth Visiting Nurses has 236. The merger will not lead to any job losses, HomeHealth Visiting Nurses said.

In 2010, the two agencies provided home health care to more than14,500 patients and vaccinated 30,000 schoolchildren and adults during the H1N1 flu pandemic.

Federal regulators close Virginia, California banks

Regulators Friday closed banks in Virginia and California, lifting to 73 the number of U.S. bank failures this year.

The number of closures has dropped significantly this year as banks have worked their way through the bad debt accumulated in the recession. By this time last year, regulators had shuttered 127 banks.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized Bank of the Commonwealth, based in Norfolk, Va., with $985.1 million in assets and $901.8 million in deposits, and Citizens Bank of Northern California, based in Nevada City, Calif., with $288.8 million in assets and $253.1 million in deposits.

The failure of Bank of the Commonwealth is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $268.3 million. That of Citizens Bank of Northern California is expected to cost $37.2 million.

Oil prices fall for third day on global recession worries

Oil fell for a third straight day Friday on worries that the global economy is headed for recession and could cut demand for crude.

“People are just afraid that demand is going to be affected in a negative way, and that’s pulling prices back down,” said Tom Bentz, an analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures.

A day after it plunged more than 6 percent, Benchmark U.S. oil fell 66 cents to finish at $79.85 per barrel. The price of oil still is almost $5 a barrel more than a year ago. Analysts expect it to stay between $75 and $90 per barrel until there is a better picture of what’s ahead for the global economy.

Since Sept. 1, wholesale prices have tumbled 40 cents a gallon. Prices at the pump have dropped more gradually, but the nationwide average Thursday was $3.56 a gallon, down a dime over the past two weeks.

But prices are still higher than they were a year ago, when the nationwide average was $2.70 a gallon.

Federal watchdog faults Fannie Mae monitoring

Fannie Mae missed chances to catch law firms illegally signing foreclosure documents and its government overseer did not take the right steps to ensure Fannie was doing its job, according to a federal watchdog.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s inspector general said in a report Friday that Fannie failed to establish an “acceptable and effective” way to monitor foreclosure proceedings between 2006 and early 2011. FHFA then failed to ensure it was complying with demands that it clean up its programs.

Mortgage industry employees — including law firms employed by Fannie Mae — signed documents they hadn’t read and used fake signatures on foreclosure cases across the country. The practices, known collectively as “robo-signing,” resulted in a suspension of foreclosures last fall and a probe by all 50 statesl into how corners were cut to keep pace with the crush of foreclosure paperwork.

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million home loans worth more than $5 trillion.