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Big U.S. banks offer forbearance on mortgages -California Governor

SAN FRANCISCO, March 25 (Reuters) - Four of the nation’s five largest banks have agreed to postpone foreclosures and offer forbearance on mortgage payments for three months for homeowners impacted by COVID-19, California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday.

But while JP Morgan Chase, US Bank, Wells Fargo , Citi and 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions all agreed to offer 90 days of protections, Bank of America had “unfortunately” only committed to 30 days, he said.

Bank of America spokeswoman Jessica Oppenheim said the governor was mistaken, however. “We will work with customers on a monthly basis until the end of the crisis,” she said in a phone interview. “It could end up being longer than 90 days.”

As businesses shutter and authorities in at least 20 U.S. states order residents to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, economists estimate that millions of Americans have lost their jobs, leaving them struggling to pay for basics like food and housing.

U.S. bank regulators have directed financial institutions to exercise forbearance and work with their customers who may face hardship, but there are no consistent guidelines on what such forbearance should entail. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Ann Saphir)