the subprime mortgage lender New Century Financial Corp. from 17% to 18.75%. The Oregon banking company said it purchased 500,000 shares of New Century's common stock on Dec. 22 at $9.90 a share. In November, U.S. Bancorp bought $20 million worth of New Century's convertible preferred stock in what it called a strategic alliance to cross-sell each company's products. New Century originates, purchases, sells, and services subprime mortgage loans.-Brett Chase

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