Washington Mutual, citing the impact of rising interest rates on its mortgage banking unit, has officially lowered its earnings guidance for 2004.Higher interest rates have lowered mortgage production volume at a time when cost reduction plans have not yet fully taken effect, the company said. WaMu chief executive officer Kerry Killinger said shrinking mortgage volume is "likely to outpace the timing of ongoing cost reduction plans in our mortgage banking business." WaMu now estimates that its 2004 earnings will range from $3.00 to $3.60 per share. According to Thomson Financial's First Call, analysts had been expecting the company to earn $4.24 this year.

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