In agreeing to buy First Fidelity Bancorp. in the biggest bank deal in U.S. history, First Union Corp. may also have committed its future to the Northeast.

As recently as last winter, Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union had been looking westward. Its aborted bid for Compass Bancshares in Birmingham, Ala., rejected by the Compass board, would have given First Union a toehold in Texas and opened up a vista of further opportunities in the West or Midwest.

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