FORECASTING a fifth straight record year, FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer said banks posted a 15% gain in second quarter earnings over a year earlier. Page 2

MERRILL LYNCH will invest $77 million in Los Angeles during the next three years under a plan developed with the Greenlining Institute, a coalition of community activists. "This partnership makes plain, good business sense," Merrill Lynch chairman Daniel P. Tully said. Page 3

HOUSE BANKING Committee Chairman Jim Leach and Comptroller Eugene A. Ludwig fire salvos in their war of words. Page 3


MS FINANCIAL, already reeling from the resignation of its chief financial officer, reported its delinquency ratio was 74% higher than stated at the end of the second quarter. Page 6

A FEDERAL bankruptcy judge has rejected a Minnesota bank's claim that it deserved nearly $13 million from the estate of a failed cattleman who allegedly carried out an elaborate check-kiting scheme. Page 6


LIKE ITS CLIMATE, the housing market in Phoenix has been hot for years, and mortgage bankers see no signs of cooling soon. Page 8

CALIFORNIA thrift executives have assailed a pilot project that would let the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York hold multifamily housing loans. Page 9


STOCK FUND sales fueled profits at banks' fledgling brokerage units in the second quarter. Page 10

DIME SAVINGS BANK of New York is donating to the American Red Cross 10% of the gross commissions it generates on stock trades. Page 10


FLAG FINANCIAL, a small Georgia thrift, will take the biggest hit so far in the Bennett Funding debacle - a $2.3 million charge against earnings. Page 12

BANK OF GRANITE backed away from what would have been the North Carolina bank's first acquisition in its 90-year history. Page 12


FIRST DATA plans to buy Donnelley Marketing for $185 million cash. Page 14

DEAN WITTER's new affinity Discover card is designed to appeal to animal lovers by helping to save endangered species. Page 14


ON-LINE BANKING: The creators of a new World Wide Web service called Findex say it will be a data base of financial services companies categorized by geography, product offerings, and rates. Page 16


BARNETT BANKS appears to have gained substantial ground in the stock market in the wake of NationsBank's decision to buy Boatmen's Bancshares. Back page

FLEET FINANCIAL has lured three real estate specialists from Bank of Boston. Back page

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