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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) - Stocks are moving higher again on the first trading day of the month. This comes after a report showing that U.S. manufacturing grew modestly in June after a pickup in new orders and stronger production.

The Institute for Supply Management said its factory index increased to 50.9 in June from 49 in the previous month.

Markets on abbreviated holiday schedule

Markets, meanwhile, are on an abbreviated holiday schedule because of the Independence Day holiday on Thursday. The New York Stock Exchange will close at 1 p.m. tomorrow and reopen on Friday.

First Federal to acquire two banks

Here in Arkansas it was another week and another big banking deal. And one that once again includes a bank in Jonesboro.

You'll remember that last week, Home BancShares Inc. of Conway announced a $280 million deal to buy Liberty Bank of Arkansas Inc. of Jonesboro.

That deal set to create the second-largest bank headquartered in Arkansas.

And yesterday, First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas Inc. of Harrison announcing a $124 million deal to acquire two banks: First National Bank of Hot Springs and Heritage Bank in Jonesboro.

The deal will almost triple First Federal Bancshares's assets to about $1.4 billion -- it will expand its branch network to 44 in Arkansas and two in southeast Oklahoma.

The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of the year.

First Federal CEO Christopher Wewers announcing the purchase on his very first day as First Federal's chief executive officer.

Wewers had previously been the company's chief operating officer.

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