Chilled by renewed fears that swept the banking industry yesterday, MNC Financial Inc. led a pack of bank stocks broadly lower, tumbling 18.5 percent to $2.75 a share as it registered the biggest percentage loss on the New York Stock Exchange.
Analysts agreed that yesterday's sell-off of bank stocks was prompted by the federal takeover Sunday of Bank of New England Corp., that region's third-largest banking company.
Regulators moved on the company after its announcement Friday that it could lose as much as $450 million as the real estate market in that region continued its deterioration.
"I don't think the worst is behind us, particularly in New England," said Edward Emmer, head of financial-institution analysis for Standard & Poor's Corp.
Moreover, the expected loss heightened concerns among investors that the economic woes evident in New England were not isolated to that region, analysts said.
With the real estate industry in the Baltimore-Washington area in a similar slump, investors are skittishly watching for further signs of how the region's economy has fared over the past three months.
MNC appears to be particularly vulnerable, analysts said, since of all of the nation's major banks, it has the highest concentration of risky real estate construction loans.
The company, parent of Maryland National Bank and American Security Bank in Washington, closed down 62.5 cents a share yesterday at its lowest level in more than a decade.
MNC led the list of losers yesterday, but it was hardly alone. Among other banking companies:
* Baltimore Bancorp, parent of the Bank of Baltimore, suffered the ninth-biggest loss of the day, closing down 8.8 percent at $3.875 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.
* Chase Manhattan Corp. was down 12.5 cents, to $10.75.
* Citicorp was down 37.5 cents, to $13.
* C&S/Sovran was down 25 cents, to $15.375.
* Mercantile Bankshares was down 62.5 cents, to $19.375.
* Provident Bankshares was unchanged at $4.
* Signet Banking Corp. was unchanged at $9.625.