As Citigroup Inc. and the federal government head to court over charges of abusive lending practices at Associates First Capital Corp., rival lenders expressed skepticism about the government's case and a measure of optimism that the proceedings could help settle legal questions surrounding the business.

The Federal Trade Commission filed a 10-count, 26-page suit in federal district court Tuesday, claiming that Citigroup unit Associates First Capital Corp. violated four federal laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity and Truth in Lending acts.

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