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SEATTLE - (01/31/05) -- Washington Mutual, which slashedmore than 11,100 jobs from its mortgage operations last year, saidit plans to open 250 new branches in 2005 and add 1,500 new jobs togain new customers. The nation's largest thrift said it is addingbranches in areas where larger rivals, like Citigroup and Bank ofAmerica, has a big presence, or plan to expand. More than half ofthe new branches will be in the four most populous states:California, Texas, New York and Florida. The company ended 2004with about 1,940 branches.

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