updated 7/29/2004 5:05:32 PM ET 2004-07-29T21:05:32

Washington Mutual Inc. said Thursday it would close all 53 of its commercial banking branches and lay off 850 people, bringing the number of layoffs the company has announced in the past week to nearly 3,400.

The Seattle-based financial institution also said it would no longer finance professional home builders, though it emphasized that other small businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales can continue to use Washington Mutual's 1,800 retail bank branches. The 53 commercial banking branches serve mid-sized to large companies.

In trading Thursday, Washington Mutual shares closed up 36 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $38.85 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Last week, Washington Mutual announced that it plans to cut 2,500 jobs and close operations across the country as it tries to improve its struggling mortgage business. Those cuts include the closure of about 100 retail lending and loan processing offices and a mortgage loan processing center in San Antonio.

Most of Washington Mutual's layoffs are expected by this fall.

The commercial banking branches being closed between Aug. 20 and Oct. 29 are in 14 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.

"Today's announcement is difficult because it impacts employees who have worked so hard for our company," said Craig Chapman, Commercial Group president. "However, our future success depends on focusing our teams on major markets, products and services where we can best serve our commercial customers."

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