The Supreme Court is expected to announce Monday whether it will take up banks' case for annuity sales.

At issue is whether national banks should be limited to selling annuities in towns with fewer than 5,000 people, in accordance with a century-old rule that bankers say is obsolete.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals enforced the rule last August, in a case brought by Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co. against NationsBank of North Carolina. The Justice Department this spring petitioned the Supreme Court for a rehearing on behalf of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Banking interests expect the court to undertake the review. "There are conflicts among various appeals courts," said Michael Crotty, deputy general counsel for litigation at the American Bankers Association. "The Supreme Court exists in part to resolve these matters."

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