Need evidence that everything eventually comes back in style? Consider how commercial banks are sizing up discount securities brokerage Quick & Reilly Group.

The Palm Beach, Fla., company-the nation's third-largest provider of cut-rate investment services-went on the auction block last week with an asking price of about $1.5 billion. Several banks, including J.P. Morgan & Co., Mellon Bank Corp., KeyCorp, and First Union Corp., are said to be looking.

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