In a rare retreat, Long Island's North Fork Bancorp. has sold most of its 5% stake in a Queens thrift after being stonewalled for two months in its efforts to open merger talks.

The sale in late July by Mattituck, N.Y.-based North Fork of 180,000 shares in Haven Bancorp reduced its stake in the Woodhaven-based thrift to 30,000 shares, or less than 1% of the total.

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