Corrects first paragraph to 21 percent increase instead of 40 percent increase

The number of problem U.S. banks and thrifts rose to 305 in the first quarter of 2009, up 21 percent from 252 in the prior quarter and marking the highest number since 1994, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said on Wednesday.

The sharp rise came as banks face mounting credit losses for home mortgages, commercial real estate and consumer credit cards amid the economic recession. The FDIC also said its deposit insurance fund fell to $13 billion at the end of March, compared with $17.3 billion at the end of 2008.

(Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)