Assistant Attorney General Deval L. Patrick, who resigned effective Monday, made lending bias a front-page issue. In his two-and-a-half year tenure as head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, he challenged how banks underwrite and price loans, forcing hundreds of institutions to revamp their operations to root out discrimination. Page 4


An improving Southern California economy drove up the earnings of several banks and thrifts in the region, particularly H.F. Ahmanson, signaling the beginning of a strong 1997, analysts said. Page 5


Great Western Financial is likely to fetch just half of the $60 million to $70 million it was looking for in a sale of its Sierra Capital Management mutual fund complex, sources said. Page 7

INSURANCE: Two insurance carriers have designed life insurance products for bank mortgage customers. Page 8


The disparity between what businesses pay for small loans and what they pay for really small loans is getting wider, according to a recent Fed study. Page 10

Bankers who want to build a niche in small-business lending had better hurry because the market is growing more competitive and specialized. Page 11


A West Virginia bank holding company in search of a new money-maker has plunged into mortgage servicing at a time when others are exiting the sometimes risky business. Page 13


Advanta has pushed back its day in court with Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard International. Page 15


Two Northeast thrifts want to join the small but growing number of mutual holding companies. Page 17


Bank technology stocks were down for the week as investors migrated to larger companies reporting strong earnings. Page 18

Comerica, a check imaging pioneer, is taking another technological step forward with a digital archive from IA Corp. Page 19


Wall Streeters sometimes call it the "kitchen sink quarter" because unusual items can appear in fourth-quarter earnings reports, but analysts say bank stock investors are mostly getting the real story this year. Page 24

Recent signs of economic strength, together with a pair of key departures from the Federal Reserve Board, may have shortened the odds on an interest rate hike by the central bank. Page 24

Shares of Fifth Third surged on news of a glowing endorsement from Wall Street. Back page

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