The nation's banks lost $26.2 billion in the last three months of 2008, the first quarterly deficit in 18 years, as the housing and credit crises escalated.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says U.S. banks and thrifts also more than doubled the amount they set aside to cover potential loan losses, to $69.3 billion in the fourth quarter from $32.1 billion a year earlier.
Regulators say there were 252 banks in trouble at the end of 2008, up from 171 in the third quarter.
The FDIC says that for all of last year, the banking industry earned $16.1 billion, the smallest annual profit since 1990.
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