WASHINGTON — While talk in Washington continues to focus on tightening investment bank oversight, the firms stayed away from the discount window for the second week in a row.

Loans to investment banks first zeroed out on July 2 and remained flat on Wednesday -- the same day Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appeared before Congress to urge lawmakers to toughen regulation of the Wall Street firms.

Meanwhile, the Fed gave $250 million to weak institutions by Wednesday. It is unclear which bank received the loan but such actions are relatively rare.

The last time the Fed distributed such loans was Nov. 21, when the credit totaled $2 million. Since the financial turmoil began in August, loans to troubled banks peaked at $408 million on Oct. 24.

Overall lending through the discount window grew 3.2%, to $13.332 billion. Much of that increase was thanks to a 1.3% boost in loans to healthy commercial banks, which totaled $12.985 billion.

The remaining $97 million went to institutions in rural or resort regions in the form of seasonal credit.

Since the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has taken the lead on lending to investment banks, it continued to dominate the discount window, distributing a total of $9.2 billion. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, whose district includes troubled IndyMac Bancorp, came in second, lending $2.248 billion.

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