The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has eased its scrutiny of Shawmut National Corp.

The Fed announced late Tuesday that it would allow the Hartford, Conn.-based company to resume paying preferred dividends without the agency's permission.

The move has little substantive effect because the Fed had been allowing Shawmut, which has $22.6 billion in assets, to pay the dividends. However, it is a sign that regulators have confidence in the banking company's recovery.

After big losses in 1989, 1990, an4 the first half of 1991, Shawmut has been profitable for four straight quarters.

The Fed's written agreement, which went into effect in October 1991, still requires Shawmut to get permission to pay common dividends. The company has not paid a common dividend since January 1991.

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