First Union Corp., Bank of America Corp., and Washington Mutual Inc. are on analysts' lists this season, but not for being nice.

With the fourth quarter nearing its close and the stock market turning to visions of next month's quarterly reporting period, the three are among those companies considered most likely to begin guiding Wall Street's yearend and 2000 earnings forecasts lower. If so, Bank of America and Washington Mutual would join a growing list of the nation's largest financial companies that have deflated investors' expectations this year. Indeed, profit forecasts for many of the largest companies have fallen steadily throughout 1999 - in some cases precipitously - as a confluence of sluggish revenue growth, margin pressures, and merger integration problems put a damper on once-lofty expectations.

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