SEATTLE -- Washington Federal Savings said its board

has authorized a 1-cent, or 5%, increase in the quarterly cash dividend, to 21 cents a share.

The dividend - the 46th declaration in a row and the 23d time it has been increased - will be payable July 29 to stockholders of record on July 14.

Washington Federal, which enjoyed a 3% return on assets last year, has $3.2 billion of assets and 78 branches in Washington and four other states.

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