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Local bank fears reignited as another three US lenders fail

ANOTHER three US regional banks failed over the weekend, as authorities continue to monitor over 300 problem lenders that may not survive the harsh economic environment. <br /><br />Fears that retail banks are far from through the worst of the credit crunch were heightened after two banks in Florida and one in Oregon failed, taking the tally of collapsed US banks to 72 this year so far.<br /><br />This compares to 25 failures in total last year and just three in 2007.<br /><br />The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures retail banking assets in the US, said it is facing a $185m (&pound;111m) hit from the closures, taking the total to $16.8bn this year. <br /><br />The agency also has running a tally of problem banks that its examiners closely monitor. At the end of the first quarter, 305 undisclosed institutions were on that list. <br /><br />First State, the Florida lender with $463m in assets and $387m in consumer deposits, failed over the weekend. And Community National Bank, based close to First State in the Sarasota part of Florida, also failed. The bank had assets worth $97m and $93m in deposits.<br /><br />Both banks are set to reopen under the brand of Stearns Bank National Association &ndash; a Minnesota-based lender &ndash; which has agreed to purchase $451m of their assets under an emergency deal brokered by the government.<br /><br />And Oregon-based Community First Bank, which had $209m in assets and deposits worth $182m also failed, with Home Federal Bank set to take on the insured portion of its assets and the FDIC taking on the rest.