MICROSOFT'S Matt Cone tried to mollify bankers at a recent conference, but apparently with little success. Page 16 WASHINGTON: PRIVATE MORTGAGE insurers were twice as likely to reject minority applicants as whites in a Federal Reserve study of data from 1994. Page 2 THOUGH MUCH of the federal government was expected to shut down this morning, the banking agencies had arranged to stay open for business as usual. Page 2 REGIONAL BANKING: SAN FRANCISCO-BASED First Nationwide is selling four New Jersey branches and $510 million in deposits to Midlantic. The sum was not disclosed.

Page 6 SMALL BUSINESSES are increasingly open to electronic services, and the timing couldn't be better for the big banks trying to reach that market, according to a recent survey. Page 7 COMMUNITY BANKING: A SAVINGS BANK in Brooklyn, N.Y., is planning to buy out a competitor and convert to a stock institution in one fell swoop - without running afoul of federal regulators. Page 20 NEARLY EVERYTHING about Home Financial of affluent Hollywood, Fla., says takeover candidate. The second-largest public thrift based in Florida is twice as efficient as the average thrift - and about twice as profitable.

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