LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Stocks back on the rebound a bit after a few days of losses. This, as investors decided to focus on economic news instead of the Federal Reserve.

Among the economic news, a report showed that orders for durable goods rose 3.6 percent in May, matching April's gain. Another showed U.S. home prices up 12 percent in April compared with a year ago, the biggest year-over-year gain since March 2006.

And sales of new homes rose in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 476,000. That was the fastest pace since July 2008.

And The Conference Board's consumer confidence index jumped to 81.4 in June, its best reading since January 2008.

Home BancShares to buy Liberty Bank for $280 million

Here in Arkansas, Home BancShares Inc. of Conway and Liberty Bank of Arkansas Inc. of Jonesboro announcing Tuesday the largest in-state bank transaction in state history.

Home BancShares, a publicly traded company that's the holding company of Centennial Bank, is buying Liberty Bank in a deal worth $280 million.

The deal creates the second-largest bank headquartered in the state, with assets of more than $7 billion.

Only Arvest Bank of Bentonville, with assets of more than $14 billion, is bigger.

The combined bank company will have 92 branches in Arkansas, 151 across Home BancShares' national footprint, which includes Arkansas, Florida and Alabama.

The deal is also one between long-time friends. Home BancShares Chairman Johnny Allison and Liberty Chairman Wallace Fowler have been friends for 40 years and have been looking to do a deal for at least the last 10.

Of course Fowler, 79, has been a major player in Arkansas business, having sold two banks previously.

With this deal, he tells Arkansas Business that he is essentially retiring although he and his son Mark will join the Home BancShares board of directors.

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