WASHINGTON

Rejection rates for black and Native American mortgage applicants set records last year, increasing slightly to 54% and 53% respectively, while 26% of white applicants were rejected, also up slightly. Page 2

Republican senators bashed SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, who was appearing as the lone witness at a hearing, for demanding that banks reduce their loan-loss reserves. Page 2

NATIONAL/GLOBAL

National City of Cleveland named 30-year employee William Cornett Jr. to head the corporate banking division with the rank of senior vice president. Page 4

VIEWPOINTS Page 6

COMMUNITY/REGIONAL

Like bigger rivals, banks with about $1 billion of assets or less showed better-than-expected growth in fee income and lending in the second quarter. Page 8

An impatient Bank Plus investor is urging the board of the ailing Los Angeles-based thrift company to let its shareholders decide its future. Page 8

DIGITAL FRONTIERS

Banking versions of Internet portals were all the rage last week at an American Bankers Association conference, at which software executive Lucinda Duncalfe urged bankers to recognize their own limitations. "Let's be real," she said, "this stuff is really, really hard." Page 10

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

Big banks are not the only ones looking to buy their way into investment management, as a deal between a Staten Island, N.Y., thrift and a New York investment boutique illustrates. Page 9

Fidelity is making inroads in the market for bundled 401(k) plans sold to small companies through banks and other intermediaries. Page 9

CARDS

An Internet company has created a business through alliances with card companies. Prio markets discounts and rewards for shoppers, using the Internet to deliver credits to a shopper's card account. Page 12

MORTGAGES

Conseco's earnings show signs that its $6 billion purchase last year of Green Tree Financial, the manufactured-housing giant, is beginning to pay off in a big way. Page 14

Consumers are surprisingly ignorant about credit, especially the role that credit history plays in getting a mortgage, a survey by Fannie Mae shows. Page 14

MARKETS

French banks' merger battle has spilled onto these shores. Societe Generale has filed petitions with the Fed and the New York State Banking Department to fight off Banque Nationale de Paris. Back page

American Express announced the retirement of vice chairman and CFO Richard Goeltz. Back page

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