updated 4/29/2008 8:59:35 AM ET 2008-04-29T12:59:35

Countrywide Financial says it lost $893 million during the first quarter due to a sharp increase in its provision for loan losses.

The Calabasas, Calif.-based mortgage lender says it lost $893 million, or $1.60 per share, during the first quarter. Countrywide has said it earned $434 million, or 72 cents per share, during the year-ago period.

Thomson Financial says analysts expected Countrywide Financial Corp. to earn 2 cents per share.

Countrywide says it set aside $1.5 billion to cover loan losses. Charge-offs — loans written off as not being repaid — totaled $606 million during the first quarter.

In January, Countrywide agreed to sell itself to Bank of America for about $4 billion in stock.

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