U.S. closed banks match total for all of 2008

WASHINGTON Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:53pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Regulators closed banks on Friday in Missouri and Nevada, bringing the total of U.S. bank failures this year to 25 and matching the number that failed throughout all of 2008, as the struggling economy and falling home prices take their toll on financial institutions.

Last year, 25 U.S. banks were seized by officials, up sharply from only three in 2007.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said Great Basin Bank of Nevada had assets of $270.9 million and deposits of $221.4 million. The failure is expected to cost the FDIC deposit insurance fund an estimated $42 million.

Nevada State Bank agreed to assume the insured deposits of Great Basin, whose five branches will reopen on Monday as branches of Nevada State Bank.

The FDIC also closed Missouri-based American Sterling Bank, which had $181 million in assets and $171.9 million in deposits. The failure is expected to cost the FDIC deposit insurance fund an estimated $42 million.

The Missouri offices of American Sterling will reopen on Saturday, and the offices in California and Arizona will reopen on Monday as branches of Metcalf Bank, which is assuming all the deposits of American Sterling.

Customers at both closed banks can access their money over the weekend by check, teller machine or debit card, the FDIC said.

During the current financial crisis, Seattle-based lender Washington Mutual became the biggest bank to fail in U.S. history. It was closed in September while suffering from losses from soured mortgages and liquidity problems.

The FDIC will insure up to $250,000 per account through 2009 and in individual retirement accounts at insured banks.

The agency also has a running tally of problem banks that its examiners closely monitor. At the end of the fourth quarter, 252 undisclosed institutions were on that list.

(Reporting by Christopher Doering; Editing by Gary Hill)

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