This morning you will have some introductory remarks from John Millman, President of Sterling Bancorp and John Tietjen, Chief Financial Officer and after their remarks we will open up the call to your questions.
And so without further ado, I would turn the call over to John Millman.
Thank you Ed and good morning everyone. Welcome to our conference call for the 2012 second quarter.Today, we are reporting exceptionally strong operating and financial performance for the second quarter and first half of this year. Our strategy is to position Sterling for profitable growth and increasing shareholder value have produced very positive results. We have demonstrated continued and expanding core earning power driven by a robust loan volume and improving net interest margin of balanced revenue mix, well controlled expenses and solid asset quality metrics. Let me highlight some of the positive factors that drove our solid performance during the quarter. We continue to deliver double digit loan growth with the portfolio increasing by 15% to approach$1.6 billion. Because we are headquartered in New York City and serve the Metropolitan area and beyond, we operate in one of the most attractive and dynamic regions in the country and we have benefited from positive economic trends in our market. In addition, since Sterling offers a portfolio of financial products, we have been able to take advantage of a range of growth opportunities to serve the needs of small and midsized businesses. I will have more to say of our performance in the current lending environment in a few minutes, but first let me cover a few specific highlights of our second quarter performance. Total deposits exceeded $2 billion. The real growth story here has been in the non-interest bearing demand deposits which increased 30% to $786 million. The high ratio of demand deposits which is approaching 40% contributes further to our extremely favorable cost advance which is among the lowest of our bank peers. We are experiencing an improving net interest margin even though we remain in a persistently low interest rate environment.