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East-West Mortgage shutting down

WORCESTER — Commerce Bank & Trust Co. has largely suspended operations of its home mortgage subsidiary, 1-800-East-West Mortgage Co., and laid off half the subsidiary’s workforce.

As interest rates rise, fewer consumers have been seeking mortgages or refinancing, said Brian W. Thompson, chief executive. Bank directors will consider options for the subsidiary, he said.

“As rates rose, a number of people just went to the sidelines,” Thompson said.

Commerce Bank acquired East-West in 2000. It handled all home mortgage lending for Commerce. East-West typically generated $400 million to $500 million a year in mortgages and then sold them.

The Marlborough operation employed fewer than 25 people, Thompson said, and about half have been laid off. Other workers continue to process applications already received, work that may take another month to two.