WASHINGTON

Count the American Bankers Association among Washington's "Power 25." Page 2

REGIONAL BANKING

Regional banks from New England and elsewhere are looking to expand in Connecticut. Page 6

COMMUNITY BANKING

A 24-hour call center and loan processing service, is moving beyond its credit union base and marketing its services to community banks nationwide. Page 9

WEEKLY REPORT: SMALL BUSINESS

With banks and other companies piling into asset-based lending, industry veterans are sounding the alarms. They say the newcomers are raising risks for the entire field by offering low interest rates and easy terms. "The unknowns are scrambling," says one established lender. "That forces the industry to go out on a ledge." Page 10

The Hartford and USF&G are working with banks to sell insurance to their small-business customers. Page 11

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

MasterCard rolled out a seasonal rewards campaign with discounts of 10% to 20% from five national retailers. Page 13

TECHNOLOGY

FIRST DATA, whose stock has lagged in recent months, is trying to get back on track through its alliance agreements. Page 14

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

The Sierra Funds, once a darling of the bank-proprietary fund business, will disappear when Great Western merges with Washington Mutual. Page 15

Compensation of investment sales representatives at banking companies jumped 20% last year, but a wide gap remained between their pay and that of nonbank brokers. Page 15

CORPORATE FINANCE

The junk bond market sizzled with new issuance last week, as underwriters scrambled to get shelf space for deals before the holiday season. Page 18

As syndicated lenders reach or near the limits of their annual lending budgets, a host of new credits are coming to market that bankers hope to finalize before yearend. Page 18

MARKET MONITOR

The nation's trade deficit is on the rise, triggering fears that the impact of Asia's recent financial turmoil has begun washing ashore here. Page 25

Banks stocks are due to lose some altitude and begin underperforming the market, according to a veteran analyst. Page 32

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