Noninterest expense for the third quarter of 2012 totaled $30.2 million, a decrease of $2.1 million, or 6.5%, from the second quarter of 2012 and $0.4 million, or 1.5%, from the third quarter of 2011. The decrease compared to the second quarter of 2012 reflects a reduction in salaries/associate benefit expense of $0.6 million, OREO expense of $0.8 million, and other expense of $0.7 million. The decrease in salaries/associate benefit expense was due to lower associate salary expense reflective of lower headcount, pension plan expense, and associate insurance expense. A decline in valuation adjustments drove the decrease in OREO expense. Other expense declined due to lower advertising fees and professional fees, as well as one-time severance costs that were recorded in the second quarter of 2012. Lower salaries/associate benefit expense and occupancy expense drove the decrease compared to the third quarter of 2011.
For the first nine months of 2012, noninterest expense totaled $95.1 million, a decrease of $0.1 million from the same period of 2011 attributable to lower occupancy expense of $0.5 million and intangible amortization expense of $0.2 million, partially offset by higher furniture/equipment expense of $0.2 million, OREO expense of $0.3 million, and salaries/associate benefit expense of $0.1 million. A decrease in building maintenance/repairs and utility expense drove the decline in occupancy expense. The reduction in intangible amortization expense reflects the full amortization of certain core deposit intangibles related to past acquisitions. Higher software and maintenance costs for newly implemented information systems drove the increase in furniture/equipment expense. A slightly higher level of carrying costs and valuation adjustments drove the increase in ORE expense. The slight net increase in salaries/associate benefit expense reflects higher pension plan expense that was partially offset by lower expense for associate salaries and performance compensation. Utilization of a lower discount rate in 2012 due to lower long-term bond interest rates drove the aforementioned increase in pension plan expense.