Shares in US mortgage lender Countrywide plunged yesterday after new data emerged showing that foreclosures and late payments had risen to record levels.

It shares dropped 6.4% to $5.12, their lowest level in a decade.

The fall comes after shares lost a quarter of their value on Tuesday on the back of rumours that the company was about to file for bankruptcy.

Mortgage companies in the US have been hit by falling prices on homes, rising defaults and the higher cost of accessing credit to buy homes.