US regulators close small lender in South Carolina

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators have closed a small lender in South Carolina, marking the sixth U.S. bank failure of 2014 after 24 closures last year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it has taken Allendale County Bank, based in Fairfax, S.C.

The lender, which operated five branches, had about $54.5 million in assets and $51 million in deposits as of Dec. 31.

Palmetto State Bank, based in Hampton, S.C., agreed to assume Allendale's deposits and to buy essentially all of the failed lender's assets.

Allendale County Bank's failure is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $17.1 million.

U.S. bank failures have been declining since they peaked in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession.

Only three banks went under in 2007. That jumped to 25 in 2008, after the financial meltdown, and ballooned to 140 in 2009.

In 2010, regulators seized 157 banks, the most in any year since the savings and loan crisis two decades ago. The FDIC has said 2010 likely was the high-water mark for bank failures from the recession. They declined to 92 in 2011 and fell to 51 in 2012.

In a strong economy, about four or five banks close annually.

From 2008 through 2011, bank failures cost the deposit insurance fund an estimated $88 billion, and the fund fell into the red in 2009. With failures slowing, the fund's balance turned positive in the second quarter of 2011. The fund had a $47.2 billion balance as of Dec. 31.

The FDIC has said it expects bank failures from 2012 through 2016 will cost the fund $10 billion.

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