In a sign of how hot the New Jersey bank merger market has become, investors Thursday shrugged off the agreement by National Westminster Bank PLC to pay an estimated 2.4 times stated book value for Freehold-based Central Jersey Bancorp. (See related story on page 1.)

"I don't think this changes the lay of the land that much," said Thomas J. Romano, an analyst at McConnell, Budd & Downes Inc., Morristown N.J.

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