THE NATION'S community bankers fear they'll be undercut in their community reinvestment efforts by a sudden flood of big banks preparing to pour billions into low-income neighborhoods.

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WHEN A BROKERAGE issued its "buy" recommendation for Carnegie Bancorp, the New Jersey bank didn't wait for word to get around. It celebrated with its own press release.

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AFTER CONSIDERING legislation to bail out the thrift fund this week, Republican congressional leaders ultimately decided to reject the proposal.

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COMPTROLLER Eugene A. Ludwig said efforts to reform the Glass- Steagall Act are diverting the attention of the industry and legislators from more crucial banking issues.

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PNC REPORTED a fourth-quarter loss and full-year earnings decline. The Pittsburgh company cited an expected after-tax charge of $380 million for merger expenses and the sale of fixed-rate securities.

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SOUTHERN NATIONAL and other banks in the Southeast attributed solid fourth-quarter earnings to stringent cost controls and strong loan growth that helped overcome merger-related expenses.

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TRUST UNITS, daunted by the cost of providing customized money market services, are increasingly turning to outside vendors to manage accounts of less than $100,000.

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CHASE MANHATTAN named a new head of business development for its global trust and custody services. The announcement was one of several staffing changes at announced by Chase.

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THE FEDERAL Financial Institutions Examination Council is requiring banks to report additional calculations on its call reports.

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A FORMER New York City police commission is said to be President Clinton's choice as Treasury under secretary for enforcement.

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A LONDON-BASED netting firm and a similar venture in the U.S. have agreed to develop clearing and settlement services for foreign exchange contracts.

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BROKERAGE services provider ESI Securities is getting ready to roll out an automated trade management system next that is intended to streamline trust activities.

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THE OUSTED chief executive of PNC Mortgage has landed on his feet, becoming president and chief executive of First Nationwide Mortgage. Walter C. Klein Jr. said his job is to "stabilize what has been a very quickly assembled company."

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FREDDIE MAC has hired a Salomon Brothers executive as senior vice president for corporate finance. Gregory J. Parseghian was a managing director in charge of collateralized mortgage obligations and derivative mortgage lending.

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AMERICAN EXPRESS has launched a preemptive strike to prevent Visa International from inhibiting its overseas expansion. Page 16

COULD IDEON GROUP soon go on the block? That's the spin some are putting on the announcement it will pursue "strategic alternatives" to enhance shareholder value. Ideon owns SafeCard, a card-registration company, as well as Wright Express, which sells payment services to commercial vehicle fleets.

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BANKERS TRUST agreed to pay $67 million to partially compensate Air Products and Chemicals for leveraged derivatives losses. Experts said the settlement, BT's largest to date, reflects lack of confidence in its case and a desire to put its derivatives disputes behind it now that Frank R. Newman has taken over as chief executive.

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