Bank technology stocks staged a robust rally last week, as the equities market soared on signs the economy was indeed on the way to a soft landing.

As the Dow Jones industrial average reached record levels both Thursday and Friday, nearly all the financial systems companies tracked by the American Banker rose for the week, with several setting new 52-week highs.

Affiliated Computer Services Inc. was one of the biggest gainers in the group, climbing $6.50, to $30 per share.

Dallas-based ACS has been on roll since going public at $16 last fall, and has been attracting the interest of more Wall Street analysts. On Wednesday, Bear, Stearns & Co. computer software and services analyst Charlotte Walker issued a report touting the stock, saying it was selling at a discount in comparison with other computer service firms.

Payments processor National Data Corp. announced Wednesday that a Scranton, Pa.-based community bank had installed the company's new debit card processing product.

Penn Security Bank and Trust Co., with about $400 million of assets, is now using NDC's Automated Debit Reconciliation software package, giving it the on-line access to settle transactions with the various automated teller and payment card networks using the Atlanta-based company's business communications network. The software runs on personal computers and automatically downloads settlement data from NDC's system.

"Banks can't afford not to have automated reconciliation as they position themselves for future debit (card) growth," said Kevin C. Shea, NDC's executive vice president of integrated payment systems. "NDC's product brings that process right to the bank's doorstep and puts them in direct control. It also takes away all the manual work and makes it much easier for banks to grow their business."

National Data's stock closed at $26.375 a share Friday, down $1.125 for the week.

Alltel Information Services Inc., formerly known as Systematics, announced Tuesday that eight community banks in California had recently renewed software and services agreements.

The institutions will continue to use Alltel Information's Horizon core accounting system, which runs on International Business Machines Corp.'s AS/400 midrange computer.

The California institutions renewing contracts are: Bank of Oakland, Oakland; Bay Cities National Bank, Redondo Beach; Citizens Bank, Pasadena; First Community Bank, Yucca Valley; First Credit Bank, Ontario; Golden Pacific Bank, Ontario; Preferred Bank, Los Angeles; United Mizrahi Bank, Los Angeles.

"The fact that Alltel's clients are choosing to renew their software agreements indicates we are providing successful solutions that meet the changing needs of community banks," said Janie Bolitho, national client services manager at Alltel Information, a unit of Little Rock-based Alltel Corp.

In December, Alltel took a $32 million restructuring charge, in part to account for the reduced asset value of the Horizon software business, which it had acquired in 1990.

Alltel's common stock closed at $28.625 a share Friday, up 25 cents for the week.

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