* U.S. closes six banks; closures in 2010 total 157
* Total failures now exceed 2009 total, may be peak year
* FDIC’s Bair warns banks to be prudent about reserves (Rewrites first paragraph; adds background, details)
By Glenn Somerville
WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities closed six more banks on Friday, bringing the number of closures so far this year to 157 as the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis continued to take a toll.
Smaller financial institutions, in particular, continue to feel the impact of the struggling housing market, weak economy and high unemployment. The bulk of this year’s closures have been smaller institutions, each with less than $1 billion in assets. Large banks have recovered more quickly from the financial crisis.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) has said it expects bank closures to peak this year after 140 closures in 2009.
The FDIC announced the following closures on Friday:
* Appalachian Community Bank of McCaysville, Georgia; had assets of $68.2 million. Peoples Bank of East Tennessee of Madisonville, Tennessee, to assume the deposits
* Chestatee State Bank of Dawsonville, Georgia; had assets of $244.4 million. Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock, Arkansas, to assume the deposits.
* Bank of Miami, National Association of Coral Gables, Florida; had assets of $448.2 million. 1st United Bank of Boca Raton, Florida FUBC.O to assume the deposits.
* United Americas Bank, National Association, of Atlanta, Georgia; had assets of $193.8 million. State Bank and Trust Company of Macon, Georgia to assume the deposits.
* Community National Bank of Lino Lakes, Minnesota; had assets of $31.6 million. Farmers & merchants Bank of Manchester, Iowa to assume deposits.
* First Southern Bank of Batesville; had assets of $191.8 million. Southern Bank of Poplar Bluff, Missouri to assume deposits.
FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has said that while the number of failures already exceeds the 2009 tally of 140, the total assets of this year’s failures will probably be lower.
On Nov. 23 the FDIC released its latest quarterly report on the state of the banking industry. It showed that the industry overall continues to recover from the financial crisis but that large banks are doing better than smaller institutions.
The net income for the banking industry was $14.5 billion for the third quarter, which compares to $21.4 billion in the second quarter and $2 billion in the third quarter of 2009, according to the FDIC.
The banking industry has been setting aside less money to guard against losses, helping to boost earnings in recent quarters.
Bair cautioned against banks reducing these reserves too quickly given the state of the economy.
Despite the improving revenues numbers for the industry as a whole, community banks continue to be hit hard by the weak economy and the amount of bad loans on their books, particularly in the commercial real estate sector.
For instance, the number of banks on the agency’s “problem list” grew to 860 from 829, to reach the highest number since March of 1993 when there were 928 institutions on the list. Most of these institutions will not fail but the list provides an indication of how many banks are struggling. (Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Additional reporting by Dave Clarke; Editing by Richard Chang)