Regional bank executives doused anyone bullish on loan demand with a bucket of cold water this week. Their message at an industry confab: loan demand remains tepid or, in some cases, has worsened.

Perhaps the most pessimistic among the bank executives appearing at the Barclays Global Financial Services Conference in New York was Kelly King, the chairman and chief executive of BB&T (BBT). The $183 billion-asset company, which has branches in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, expects loan growth to be sluggish for the next two or three years.

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