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Business

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Briefs

Verizon touts plan for upgrade

Verizon Wireless, the country’s largest cellphone carrier, on Thursday said it’s joining AT&T and T-Mobile in providing an installment plan for its phones, aiming to satisfy customers who want to upgrade their devices faster or avoid paying the upfront cost of their phones.

The plan, dubbed Edge, will be introduced Aug. 25 and allows the buyer to spread the full retail price of the phone, without subsidies, over 24 months. A buyer who has paid off 50 percent of the cost of the phone can upgrade to a new phone after six months.

“We have a lot of customers in the technology edge that want to upgrade sooner than they would under our historical, legacy, subsidy model, if you will. And we have other customers who don’t want to pay upfront for the large cost of the phone,” said Fran Shammo, Verizon Communications Inc.’s chief financial officer.

On Tuesday, AT&T announced its own frequent-upgrade option, called Next, which is similar to Verizon’s Edge.

Starting July 26, customers will be able to buy their phones on installment plans, with the option to trade in the devices after a year.

Peoples Bancorp earnings decline

Peoples Bancorp on Thursday reported third fiscal quarter earnings of $752,708, or 32 cents a share, a 4 percent decline from the $785,812, or 33 cents a share, posted for the same three months of 2012.

Maurice Winkler, president, said the Auburn-based company prepaid some loans from the Federal Home Loan Bank that resulted in penalties. That contributed to a $900,000 increase in the company’s non-interest expenses for the quarter, as compared with last year’s fiscal third quarter.

“However, we were able to see immediate benefits in net interest margin that should continue going forward,” he said in a statement.

The parent of Peoples Federal Savings Bank reported assets of almost $466 million as of June 30.

Fifth Third profit rises 58 percent

Regional banking company Fifth Third Bancorp’s second-quarter net income rose 58 percent, thanks partly to the sale of shares of its Vantiv payment processing subsidiary.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third on Thursday reported net income available to common shareholders of $594 million, or 66 cents a share, for the three months ended June 30. That compares with $376 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding benefits tied to the Vantiv stock sales, earnings were 44 cents a share. That beat Wall Street expectations for 42 cents a share.

Economic gauge unchanged in June

A gauge of the economy’s future health was unchanged in June, pointing to modest growth in coming months.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Thursday that its index of leading indicators remained at 95.3 in June. The flat reading followed increases of 0.2 percent in May and 0.8 percent in April.

The longer-term trend has been positive. The index increased 1.7 percent in the first six months of this year. That’s better than the 1.1 percent rise in the previous six months.

The trend “suggests that the economy should continue to experience at least modest growth over the next six to nine months,” said Maninder Sibia, an economist at the Economic Advisory Service.

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