Washington Mutual shares fall 34.7 percent today on renewed worries about loan losses; other local banks take smaller hits.

Share story

Washington Mutual shares plunged 34.7 percent today as regional banks were hit by renewed investor worries about continuing loan losses.

WaMu, the nation’s largest thrift, saw its shares fall below $3.50 — territory they last visited in February 1991. At the close, the stock was down $1.72 at $3.23.

After the market close, WaMu issued a statement that said it “significantly exceeds all regulatory ‘well-capitalized’ minimums for depository institutions.”

WaMu added that it “will provide a more detailed report on its capital position and liquidity, as well as the steps it is taking to work through the current environment,” when it reports quarterly financial results July 22.

The drop at WaMu followed a Lehman Brothers report that said the lender may report $26 billion in losses this year, according to Bloomberg News. The wire service said analyst Bruce Harting expects the bank to report a loss of $1.48 a share in the second quarter, substantially deeper than the average estimate of a 92-cent loss.

Washington Mutual spokesman Derek Aney said the thrift saw “business as usual” and that there was no unusual depositor activity, Bloomberg reported.

Other Washington banks also took some hits in today’s sectorwide drop.

Sterling Financial fell 28.7 percent to $2.53, while Frontier Financial dropped 12.5 percent to $8.85, Washington Federal Savings slid 6 percent to $14.20 and Banner fell 4.6 percent to $7.65.