Investment banker Bob Hammer has his finger on the jumpy pulse of the credit card industry. His company, R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., founded over six years ago, has carved a niche for itself, selling credit card portfolios in the $10 million to $100 million range. Page 10

WASHINGTON

Removing a long-standing obstacle to broad financial modernization, the Independent Insurance Agents of America endorsed legislation allowing banks and insurance companies to own each other. Page 2

Directors who sit on the board of a thrift and its holding company may not be held to a higher standard of corporate conduct than directors who sit on a single board, a federal appeals court ruled. Page 2

MORTGAGES

Healthy mortgage volumes and share buybacks drove Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's double-digit earnings growth in 1996, and analysts say neither agency shows any sign of slowing down over the next few years. Page 4

Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group, a spinoff of Resource Bancshares, is acquiring a Western subprime lender. Page 5

COMMUNITY BANKING

Two northeastern banks terminated a merger agreement that had been fraught with delays for almost a year. Page 6

In the latest phase of a seven-month restructuring effort, Kentucky's Trans Financial is selling two small branches in Tennessee. Page 6

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

Demand for First Union's cash management account was so heavy in 1996, that this year, bank executives decided to actually tell people about the product. Page 7

A second Putnam Investments executive has left the Boston-based company this week to work for smaller hometown rival Liberty Financial. Page 7

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

First USA will market a no-fee card to customers of Countrywide Home Loans. Page 11

TECHNOLOGY

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce joined with Northern Telecom to develop electronic commerce products, passing another milestone on its journey to becoming the "bank of the future." Page 14

CORPORATE FINANCE

Salomon Brothers added another deal to its list of one-stop-banking transactions, playing a three-part role in Mercury Finance's acquisition of Fidelity Acceptance from Bank of Boston. Page 20

Wells Fargo is bringing 7-by-24 banking - service available seven days a week, 24 hours a day - to middle-market corporate clients. Page 20

MARKET MONITOR

Securities backed by credit card transactions that haven't happened yet in Mexico might strike some as a tough sell, but financiers are devising ways to make these deals attractive to cautious investors. Back page

Insiders at several credit card banks have been aggressively selling their companies' shares recently, while executives at southern regional banks have beefed up their holdings. Back page

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