Commercial Real Estate excluding commercial loans grew approximately $50 million from the third quarter as originations of $132 million were also impacted by both scheduled and non scheduled principal payments of over $80 million.

On average, prepayments in part precipitated by the low interest rate environment during 2011 were approximately 11% greater than the amount recognized in 2010.

The commercial C&I portfolio expanded $8.2 million or nearly 2% annualized from the prior quarter.

Line usage remained at approximately 38.5%. However, the total amount of committed lines from lines of credit grew by nearly $70 million.

Activity in Valley’s New York and New Jersey market place was strong during the fourth quarter as new originations equaled $157 million or 20% greater than new volumes realized in the third quarter.

The current quarter increase in loan activity is promising, yet from our perception does not imply customer sentiments has fully shifted in a positive direction. Much of our growth had come from taking business away from some of our competitors and many of our customers continue to be reluctant to expand their businesses until the economic conditions improve and they can anticipate sustainable business profits.

We remain optimistic about growth in Valley’s commercial lending portfolio and see continued opportunities throughout 2012. However, as is customary as Valley, loan growth is limited based on management’s emphasis on credit quality. Growing the balance sheet simply for the sake of size has never been the focus at Valley. Growing the most profitable and long term sustainable earning stream focusing of credit quality is the hallmark of Valley and ultimately drives the levels of portfolio growth.

As previously stated, many of Valley’s new commercial lending relationships originated throughout 2011 are largely the result of borrowers migrating from other financial institutions as opposed to expanding existing lending relationships due to growth in the economy.

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