WASHINGTON -- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is back in the black.

Since yearend, the agency's Bank Insurance Fund has increased its balance to $1.2 billion from a deficit of $101 million, officials said Tuesday.

The news came as the FDIC's board reaffirmed its intention to hold bank premiums steady, despite the fund's rebound.

Aiming for Quick Recapitalization

Board members said they were determined to rebuild the insurance fund to the minimum level required by Congress ahead of schedule.

Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig, in his first public comments on the bank fund, said Tuesday he wants to recapitalize it as quickly as possible.

Banks now pay assessments ranging from 23 to 31 basis points per $100 in deposits, depending on how much risk the institution poses.

Target Should Be Reached by 2002

The 1991 banking law gave the FDIC until 2006 to rebuild the bank fund so that it holds $1.25 for every $100 of deposits insured. Under current agency projections, the fund will reach that goal by 2002.

The FDIC's actions on Tuesday finalized a plan it proposed in March.

The FDIC also said that its borrowing from the Federal Financing Bank fell by $5.7 billion in the first quarter. Outstanding loans, which the FDIC uses to finance assets it inherits from failed banks, stood at $4.5 billion on March 31.

The FDIC said it has reduced staffing by 1,829 positions to 16,575.

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