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First Federal parent says profit up 1%

Northeast Indiana Bancorp Inc. on Thursday reported second-quarter earnings of $674,000, or 56 cents per diluted common share, a 1 percent bump over the $669,000, or $669,000, or 54 cents a share, posted for the same three months of 2013.

The Huntington-based parent of First Federal Savings Bank ended its second quarter June 30.

CEO Michael Zahn said he was pleased by the strong earnings. He attributed the increase to higher profit margins and improving asset quality.

“I’m also personally pleased that we’ve been able to increase loan balances $8.8 million or 5.8 percent through the first six months of 2014 in a very tough and competitive environment,” he said in a statement.

The bank ended the quarter with $151 million in loans receivable, minus money set aside to cover bad loans.

UnitedHealth’s move signals industry shift

The nation’s largest health insurer expects to play a much bigger role in the health care overhaul next year, as the federal law shifts from raising giant questions for the sector to offering growth opportunities.

UnitedHealth Group said Thursday that it will participate in as many as 24 of the law’s individual health insurance exchanges in 2015, up from only four this year.

These state-based exchanges debuted last fall as a way for customers to buy individual health insurance, many with help from income-based tax credits. They played a key role in helping roughly 8 million people gain coverage for 2014.

But UnitedHealth and other insurers approached them cautiously, in part because they had little information about the health of the people who would sign up.

Home construction drops 9.3 percent

U.S. home construction fell in June to the slowest pace in nine months, a setback to hopes that housing is regaining momentum and will boost economic growth this year.

Construction fell 9.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was the slowest pace since last September and followed a 7.3 percent drop in May, a decline even worse than initially reported.

Applications for building permits, considered a good indicator of future activity, were also down in June, dropping 4.2 percent to a rate of 963,000 after a 5.1 percent decline in May.

The worse-than-expected June performance reflected a big drop in activity in the South, where construction plunged by 29.6 percent last month.