WASHINGTON - Federal regulators are debating whether they should deny Shawmut National Corp.'s applications to acquire several New England banks because of questions about lending discrimination at a mortgage subsidiary.

The Federal Reserve is considering applications by Shawmut to acquire New Dartmouth Bank of Manchester, N.H., and Peoples BancoRp of Worcester, Mass. On Friday, Shawmut agreed to acquire Gateway Financial Corp. of Fairfield County, Conn., which will also require Fed approval.

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