The U.S. financial system's computers will hum along undisturbed when the new year starts, a Federal Reserve bank president told business leaders Thursday.

"The probabilities are very high that on Jan. 1, 2000, nothing very unusual is going to happen," said Robert T. Parry, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. "The financial services you've come to rely on -- checks, ATMs, debit cards, direct payments, and direct deposit, for example -- will operate normally.

"The more consumers know about Y2K, the more likely they are to take rational precautions and not take drastic steps," he said in a speech to the Phoenix Community Alliance, an economic development group in Arizona.

Mr. Parry and other Fed officials, such as Federal Reserve Board Governor Roger W. Ferguson Jr., have been traveling the country in recent months to raise public awareness that 99% of financial institutions are ready for the date change and the laggards are being brought in line by regulators. -- Katharine Fraser

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