NBT Bank to open regional headquarters in Portland

A New York-based bank is stepping into the Maine market by opening a regional headquarters in Portland.

NBT Bank, an independent, commercial bank with assets of $7.9 billion, is opening an office in Merrill Wharf building at 254 Commercial St. in Portland, according to a press release from the bank.

John Watt will lead the bank’s efforts as president of the Maine regional office. He has 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and most recently was executive vice president of commercial banking, investment management and bank operations at Alliance Bank in Central New York. Previously, he was employed by JPMorgan Chase and its predecessors where he held a number of roles in commercial banking.

“Portland is a natural extension of what we have planned and built – and will continue to build – in New England,” NBT Bank President and CEO Martin Dietrich said in the release.

NBT Bank was founded in 1856 and now has offices in 155 locations, including 15 in New England. It is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol NBTB.

Falling demand for aircraft pulls down factory orders

Orders to U.S. factories declined in September, dragged by falling demand in the volatile aircraft category.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that orders retreated 0.6 percent in September, after having plunged 10 percent in August, also due largely to plummeting demand for aircraft.

There are usually dramatic monthly swings in demand for aircraft, which before falling in September and August had soared by 315.6 percent in July. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, factory orders have been flat for the past two months.

Orders at aluminum, iron and steel mills rose in September, as did demand for furniture and motor vehicles. But those gains were offset, in part, by declining orders for construction machinery, electronics products and consumer goods.

U.S. housing market cooled off in September

The U.S. housing market cooled off in September, as home prices rose at an ever slowing pace.

Prices increased 5.6 percent in September compared to a year ago, real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday. That’s down from annual gains of 6.4 percent in August and 6.8 percent in July.

Home prices had been climbing by as much as 12 percent annually toward the end of last year. But the acceleration out of the housing crash that triggered the Great Recession has become unsustainable. Wages have barely budged after inflation and lending standards remain relatively strict.

CoreLogic forecasts that the slowdown will continue, with annual home price growth slipping below 5 percent by September 2015.

– From staff and news services