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Bank of America to shutter four more branches

Bank of America Corp, the biggest bank in Massachusetts, plans to shutter four more branches in the state in March, including one near Boston City Hall, the latest in a string of closings.

The Charlotte, N.C., bank, which is in the process of thinning its network of branches across the country, said it plans to close offices at 3 Center Plaza in Boston, One Chace Road (Crossroads Common) in Freetown, 181 Court St. in Plymouth, and 3065 North Main St. in Springfield. In addition, the bank plans to eliminate the drive-up window at its branch on Main Street in Westfield. The bank has already closed dozens of branches in Massachusetts in the last few years.

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Like most financial institutions, Bank of America has been hard hit by the weak economy, ultra-low interest rates, and increased regulation, all of which have pinched profits. At the same time, fewer customers are visiting traditional branches because they are doing more banking online or at automatic teller machines.

To become more efficient and cut costs, the bank has said it plans to close 750 of its roughly 5,700 US branches and eliminate at least 30,000 jobs over the next few years.

“As we’ve acknowledged on numerous occasions, the number of branches in our nationwide network will trend down over the next few years,” said spokesman T.J. Crawford. “That being said, we still have a significant brick-and-mortar presence in Massachusetts.”

Other banks are shrinking their footprints, as well.

Citibank recently announced plans to shut 84 branches around the world, including nearly one-third of its 31 retail locations in Greater Boston. Overall, US banks are shedding branches faster than they are opening new ones, according­ to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the agency that insures deposits.

Bank of America had 264 offices in Massachusetts as of June, down from more than 300 in 2009, according to data collected from the FDIC.

Still, the bank continues to open branches in key locations, including a massive 12,000-square-foot space on the corner of Boylston and Berkeley streets next summer.

It is one of at least a dozen “flagship” locations the bank is unveiling across the country designed to showcase the company’s full range of financial services. When Bank of America opens the flagship location in the Back Bay, however, it also plans to close two smaller traditional branches nearby.

Despite the pending closings, Bank of America will have more branches than any other bank in Massachusetts, but the advantage is shrinking. Citizens Bank had just 10 fewer offices than Bank of America in June, down from a gap of more than 50 offices in 2009, though many of Citizens’ branches are smaller offices that are located in supermarkets.

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @twallack.
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