P.M. BRIEFING : Heavy S&L; Withdrawals Continue

From Times wire services

Savings and loan customers withdrew $8.5 billion from their accounts in March, the government said today in a report that showed only slight improvement from the record pace set in the first two months of the year.

The Federal Home Loan Bank Board said net withdrawals for the first three months of 1989 totaled $28.5 billion, more than triple the $8.4 billion in withdrawals for all of last year. Withdrawals totaled $9.2 billion in February and a record $10.8 billion in January.

James Barth, chief economist of the bank board, attributed most of the outflow to the failure of S&Ls; to keep pace with rising interest rates offered by such competitors as mutual funds.

March marks the 11th consecutive month of net withdrawals and the fifth straight month of withdrawals of more than $7 billion. From October, 1987, through May, 1988, money flowed into S&Ls; as stock market investors sought the safety of federally insured accounts.

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