WASHINGTON

Texas lawmakers approved legislation that would let state-chartered banks sell insurance through branches anywhere in Texas. Page 2

Privacy has gotten hot enough that two related interest groups held seminars within days without overlapping or exhausting the subject. Page 4

NATIONAL/GLOBAL

U.S. bank exposure to Mexico's largest steelmaker and its parent, which both declared bankruptcy, could be as high as $300 million, banking sources say. Page 5

Merrill Lynch's ambitious plan to start on-line trading in December gives the full-service giant six months to prepare to meet its rivals on the Internet. Page 5

COMMUNITY/REGIONAL

A Virginia credit union is being sued by two former executives who claim they were forced out after talking to regulators about its business practices. Page 7

Western banks that rely heavily on commercial real estate lending could be at risk if a slowdown in high-tech job growth persists, the FDIC warns. Page 7

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

Some bank brokers no longer hesitate to steer customers toward global funds to diversify their portfolios. Page 8

The acquisition of Republic New York would help HSBC gain ground among banks that manage mutual funds. Page 9

MORTGAGES

Interest-rate worries have stopped some investors in mortgage-backed securities in their tracks. "It's jittery out there," a mortgage trader said. Page 10

Community First of Fargo, N.D., has jettisoned its subprime lending business to turn "full attention to the business of community banking." Page 11

DIGITAL FRONTIERS

SMART CARDS: The director of the Proton smart card organization is optimistic about its prospects in the U.S. market. Page 12

Motorola has won a prized smart card contract, beating out IBM to develop a payment system for 26 transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay area. Page 12

CARDS

American Banknote is stepping up its merchant business, offering new card products and services to the small and midsize retailers it serves. Page 13

TECHNOLOGY

First Union has chosen Internet Commerce Services of Nashua, N.H., to enhance its SecureSales electronic commerce program. Page 14

MARKETS

Investor fears of an imminent hike in interest rates have slowed bank bond issuance, but observers say the lull will be temporary. Back page

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