Settling for safety, the nation's institutional investors loaded up on the shares of the nation's largest banks during the third quarter while jettisoning stakes in regionals.

Institutions such as mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, and banks acting as trustees bought over 19 million more shares in money- center and superregional banks than they sold during the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to CDA Spectrum, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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