WASHINGTON:

SAYING MANY CRA complaints are minor, the Fed inspector general said the central bank should rank the protests by seriousness as a way to speed processing of merger applications.

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LEGISLATION granting Farmer Mac new powers and more time to raise additional required capital was approved by Congress and expected to be signed by the President.

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REGIONAL BANKING:

VYING FOR MORE customers, Citicorp has eliminated a group of what it terms "nuisance fees," including the charge for checks with insufficient funds.

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BANC ONE, as part of this year's move to a centralized management structure, is going after job cuts, cost controls, and a bigger piece of each customer's wallet.

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FINANCE:

RICHARD H. DANIEL is leaving a prestigious post at Freddie Mac to become chief financial officer for Bankers Trust New York, working for his mentor Frank Newman at the beleaguered company.

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REVISED COST-CUTTING estimates for the merger of Chemical and Chase prompted an analyst to boost 1996 and 1997 earnings estimates for the combined bank.

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COMMUNITY BANKING:

A WELL-KNOWN shareholder activist - who last year peppered a dozen thrifts with demands for mergers and special dividends - has targeted yet another small thrift, this one in Alabama.

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IN HOPES OF THWARTING an unwanted takeover bid, Massachusetts' Safety Fund Corp. agreed to be bought by a white knight in New Hampshire.

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INVESTMENT PRODUCTS:

WHILE STOCK mutual funds are selling like hotcakes, sales at bank brokerages have been tepid so far this year.

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HOPING TO BROADEN its role as an asset manager, UJB Financial is unveiling its first proprietary fixed and variable annuities.

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MORTGAGES:

WELLS FARGO won the war for First Interstate, but Norwest Mortgage - which already operates Wells' mortgage program - stands to be one of the big beneficiaries.

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CALIFORNIA'S slumping housing market has lenders scrambling to reduce their dependence on business in the Golden State by seeking borrowers elsewhere.

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CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs:

FOLLOWING FLORIDA's lead, several New York lawmakers are pushing the state to drop out of a regional group organized to devise an electronic benefits transfer system.

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PRIMEPAY, a check authorization service started last year, named three of the nation's biggest check acceptance firms as its newest customers.

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TECHNOLOGY:

NATIONSBANK and Sabre Decision Technologies have embarked on a project that aims to rank the bank's customers from most profitable to least profitable.

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NOW THAT THE HYPE is clearing, bankers can take a sober, productive look at interactive technology and the very real promise of the Internet and electronic commerce.

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