Criticism of the spreads imposed by Nasdaq's market makers is pushing some conversion-minded mutual thrifts into the arms of the equity market's "also-ran," the American Stock Exchange.

Since the beginning of 1995, seven small mutual thrifts that have converted to stock form have opted to list their stock on the Amex, eschewing the embattled Nasdaq, which has become so popular among newly public companies. And an eighth mutual, $592 million-asset Bostonfed Bancorp, is now preparing to follow their lead.

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