WASHINGTON

In comment letters the industry applauded the idea of giving banks move leeway in buying securities, but said the OCC's proposal doesn't go far enough. Page 3

A House Commerce Committee vote set for March 12 could be the last chance this year for legislation to clarify lenders' environmental liability. Page 2

REGIONAL BANKINGs

Stock repurchase programs are all the rage, giving banks a way to deploy excess capital for shareholders' benefit. But sometimes there's less than meets the eye. Take First Union's. Page 4

Continuing its drive to be more banklike, Great Western Financial, the big California thrift, has hired a former Banc One executive as head of consumer lending. Page 4

COMMUNITY BANKING

Can Stanford Stoddard continue his winning streak in court? Opinions are mixed. A suit by the Michigan banker says bias and personal vendetta lay behind FDIC refusal to insure deposits at start-up he was planning. Page 6

Mutual thrifts have gained some ground on their stockholder-owned brethren in income from service fees. The reason: more checking accounts. Page 7

MORTGAGES

BIG OUTFITS are fleeing the home loan business in California, but First Mortgage near Los Angeles plans to stay put. It has restructured its management and plans to enter new markets and add branches, betting on better times, waning competition, cost control, and a balance sheet that includes little debt. "We plan to build slowly," says president Bruce G. Norman. Page 8

Advertising budgets for home equity loans are increasing, and the focus of the ads is shifting - to price. Page 8

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

An investment firm known for its portfolio of bank technology and payment service companies has bought transaction processor BSI Business Services from J.C. Penney. The estimated price: $100 million. Page 10

Small-business owners and managers spend more than half of their week completing record keeping, managing expenses, and complying with federal regulations, a survey has found. Page 10

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

Barnett Banks has begun preparations to eliminate sales charges on its proprietary mutual funds. Page 14

FINANCE

Bank stocks continued to rise, riding an uptrend in the debt and equity markets. Back page

Units of First Union have issued 40-year debt with an unusual "double- put" option, letting investors redeem after 10 or 20 years. Back page

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