Sterling Financial Corp. of Spokane said after the markets closed Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings fell 81% from a year earlier, to $5 million, or 10 cents a share.

The company said its earnings were dragged down by higher provisions for credit losses, primarily relating to the residential construction portfolio. The third-quarter provisions for credit losses increased ninefold, to $37 million.

Harold B. Gilkey, Sterling's chairman and chief executive officer, said that aside from weakness in the housing market, the results were generally solid. He noted that deposits rose 4% from the second quarter, to $8.1 billion.

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