The owner of CresCom Bank is making it easier for investors to buy and sell its shares by moving its stock to a national exchange.

Charleston-based Carolina Financial Corp. began trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market on Tuesday morning.

Shares rose 1.8 percent, or 35 cents, to close at $20.13 on the first day, giving them a total market value of $77.5 million.

"Being listed on the Nasdaq is a significant accomplishment for Carolina Financial Corp.," CEO Jerry Rexroad said in a written statement. "Moving to the Nasdaq is part of our strategic plan to provide our shareholders liquidity in their stock."

Carolina Financial began offering shares to the public in October under the ticker symbol CARO. Until this week, they could be bought and sold only through the more cumbersome OTC Bulletin Board, which displays real-time quotes, prices and sales volume data for stocks that aren't listed on a big exchange.

Carolina Financial applied for a spot on the Nasdaq in February.

As of March 31, Carolina Financial had $919 million in assets, making it the largest bank based in the tri-county area.

Its CresCom unit has 12 branches in the Charleston and Myrtle Beach markets. Earlier this week, the coastal lender announced it had hired a Greenville-based executive to help the bank establish a presence in the Upstate market.

The company's Atlanta-based Crescent Mortgage Co. originates home loans in 43 states through 2,000 banks, credit unions and brokers.

First-quarter earnings at Carolina Financial fell 56 percent to $1.94 million, largely because of falling demand for mortgage products.

The company joins several other locally based businesses with shares that trade on a major exchange. The others are the Bank of South Carolina Corp., Benefitfocus Inc., Blackbaud Inc. and Southcoast Financial Corp.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.