The market value of the nation's 100 largest banking companies soared 50.6% last year, capping a spectacular three-year jump in capitalization for the industry leaders.

The impressive 1997 increase came on top of gains of 45.5% in 1996 and 52.7% in 1995. At yearend, the aggregate capitalization of the top 100 banks was an unprecedented $851 billion.

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