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WASHINGTON

Debate over the Federal Home Loan Bank System is expected to reach a boiling point next year as the system's regulator and the Treasury Department advocate different blueprints for reform. Page 2

The decades-long legal battle between the banking and insurance industries is about to heat up again. Page 3

REGIONAL

Wells Fargo's chief economist says he is cautioning loan officers in San Francisco about a slackening of the area's economy. Page 4

BankAmerica announced it has agreed to sell eight branches in Alaska and will close four others, saying it lacks critical mass in the state. Page 4

COMMUNITY

It's been a roller-coaster year for mutual-to-stock conversions. More thrifts went public in 1998 than in 1997, but record first-day gains have disappeared and stock prices continue to languish. Page 5

New California regulations will let state-chartered banks set up ATMs without regulatory approval and sell trust services from sites other than traditional branches - for now. Page 5

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

Pioneer Group is learning that sometimes it's better not to be a pioneer. The 70-year-old Boston investment and mutual fund company is retrenching, reorganizing, and refocusing on its core money management business. Chairman John F. Cogan Jr. says the actions will help it become a "stronger, more profitable company with a sharper strategic focus." Page 6

CARDS

Welcome Real-time, a Paris-based loyalty systems company formerly known as High Co Technologies, said it has joined the Multos supplier network. Page 10

MORTGAGES

Industry specialists predict that growth in the housing and mortgage industries will slow in 1999 but remain at healthy levels. Page 11

TECHNOLOGY

BankAmerica has become the latest to put a single executive in charge of payment-service coordination. Page 12

CORPORATE FINANCE

Creditors of Mercury Finance agreed to an amended plan in which they will become majority owners of the embattled company. Page 21

MARKETS

The Federal Reserve, as widely expected, left the lower overnight bank lending rate unchanged at 4.75% after its final monetary policy session of the year. Back page

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