Chairman Jim Leach predicted the House Banking Committee will vote on financial reform legislation by the end of March. Page 2


Amid mixed yearend reports by commercial banks, some of the largest finance companies are posting record-breaking growth. Page 4


With hog prices hovering near 60-year lows, some bankers are seeing an increase in defaults and bankruptcies. Page 5

The incoming executive director of the California Bankers Association said the trade group will consider expanding its membership by allowing nonbanking companies to join. Page 6


R2 Corp., a seller of reconditioned point of sale equipment, hired a former DataCard and MasterCard executive as vice president of marketing. Page 13


An increase in the FHA loan limit and the prospect of automated underwriting by yearend had HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo brimming with confidence at the National Association of Home Builders convention in Dallas. "As many as a million more people will qualify for our loans now," he said. Page 7


The digital certificate method of verifying on-line identities, though being marketed heavily to banks, is making rapid headway in the securities industry. Page 15


ON-LINE BANKING: A pioneering Internet bank has become the first financial institution to sign up with the electronic commerce business launched this month by Equifax, the consumer data base company. Page 17


In a first for a major U.S. banking company, First Union is deploying Digipass 300, a pocket-size device that lets corporate customers make secure transactions over the Internet. Page 20


DaimlerChrysler said it will create a financial services business with more than $81 billion of outstanding loans and credits. Page 22


BancBoston Robertson Stephens' relationship with Excite Inc. paid off big when Excite tapped it to be sole adviser on its $6.7 billion stock swap with At Home Corp. Page 33


Banks must derive more earnings from fees or face a chilly reception on Wall Street in the months ahead, analysts say. Back page

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