The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board of directors has voted to keep deposit insurance premiums for banks and thrifts at current levels for the first half of 2004.FDIC staffers reported to the board that the condition of the Bank Insurance Fund and the Savings Association Insurance Fund has improved slightly this year and the board decided that a premium increase is not necessary at this time. However, both insurance funds are very close to the minimum reserve ratio of 1.25%. BIF has a 1.32% reserve ratio and SAIF has a 1.39% reserve ratio as of Sept. 30. "Despite a relatively favorable outlook for the economy and the banking industry, the FDIC projects that the reserve ratios for both funds will decline over the coming year. The projected decline is due to expected deposit growth and the impact of stable or slightly rising interest rates on securities portfolios of the insurance funds," FDIC said.

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