Meanwhile, news on Wednesday that the economy grew 3.4% in the first quarter raised inflation fears and sent the Dow Jones industrial average down 2.59 points, to 3,667.05. The index had been up 30 points earlier in the day.

Salomon Brothers Inc. raised First Fidelity Bancorp. to "buy" from "hold."

The firm noted that First Fidelity's stock trades at a discount, despite returns that meet industry averages.

The news sent First Fidelity's stock up $1 to $47.

J.W. Charles Securities Inc. initiated coverage of Barnett Banks Inc. and First Union Corp. with a "strong buy" rating, and SunTrust Banks Inc. with a "hold" rating.

Trading at a Discount

The finn said it is bullish on select Southeast regional banks and expects further dividend increases as the result of continued earnings and modest asset growth.

J.W. Charles also noted that Barnett and First Union are trading at a discount to the average regional bank, while SunTrust is trading at a 10% premium to the average regional.

The positive ratings sent Barnett's stock up 12.50 cents to $44.375 and First Union up 87.5 cents to $45.875. SunTrust also benefited, rising 25 cents to $48.625.

NationsBank was a big gainer, up $1.125, to $52.50.

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