The eagerly-awaited results from stress tests of the 19 largest U.S. banks are expected to be released on May 7 and will include an estimate of the firms' losses, a government source said on Friday

The news, which has fixated investors around the world worried about the health of the U.S. banking system, will be released late on Thursday afternoon, the source said.

The Federal Reserve and other banking regulators are conducting a battery of tests to see how the capital cushions of the country's biggest banks would weather an economic downturn that was more severe than anticipated.

The tests have been deemed as necessary to resolve doubts about the health of the banking system since it suffered steep losses in the wake of the housing market collapse, which has inflicted the most severe U.S. recession in a generation.

The 19 banks tested, which include Citigroup Inc , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co , hold two-thirds of the assets in the U.S. banking system and more than half of the loans.

The results of the examination will include information at both the aggregate and specific bank holding company levels. It will also disclose estimates of losses for certain categories of loans, and resources to absorb those losses under the more adverse economic scenario, the government source said.

The government has said the examination is not a solvency test, but rather a what-if exercise to help supervisors gauge the need of any additional capital that would be needed across a range of economic outcomes.

The Federal Reserve said last week that some banks deemed to have too thin of a capital cushion will have six months to find private funds while others may need to accept an immediately infusion of taxpayer money.

Examiners subjected the banks to scenarios in which the economy shrinks by as much as 3.3 percent this year and in which unemployment reaches as high as 10.3 percent next year.

The baseline scenario for house prices built in a 14 percent fall this year, and 4 percent next year, but the Fed also considered a more adverse scenario of a 22 percent this year and 7 percent next year.