Since taking the helm at National Processing three months ago, Robert E. Showalter has eagerly set out to restore faith in the No. 2 credit card merchant processor. WASHINGTON The financial modernization bill approved by the House Banking Committee would remedy problems facing the Federal Home Loan Bank System. REGIONAL BANKING An ambitious stock option program approved last July by the Norwest board for front-line employees is poised to be triggered years ahead of schedule. MORTGAGES Some observers are wondering if Dime Bancorp's agreement to buy North American Mortgage will spur a bidding war. INVESTMENT PRODUCTS First Bank System's First American Special Equity Fund has been churning out some of the highest returns of any mutual fund. State Street linked up with a Hong Kong-based asset manager to give its institutional customers a way to invest in Chinese companies. CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs Serious delinquencies continued to climb in the first quarter, but there were signs that lenders' tighter credit criteria were having a positive effect. TECHNOLOGY Westernbank Puerto Rico has been chosen as the main test site for an Internet banking solution from Fiserv's CBS unit. MARKET MONITOR Portfolio managers at big insurance companies say falling yields and looser underwriting are ruining their appetite for exotic asset-backed securities called "future flows." WEEKLY REPORT: INTERNATIONAL After slumping slightly during the first half last year, assets of foreign banks in the United States at yearend 1996 climbed nearly 3%.

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