WASHINGTON -- Bank of America Corp. is breaking ranks with other large banks by supporting consumer-protection provisions in regulatory reform legislation, several sources said. The provision has been one of the most controversial elements in the reform effort, and the support of a large financial institution could help build momentum for the idea.

Until now, BoA has officially stayed neutral on a consumer protection unit, which has been fiercely opposed by the banking industry, which argues it could write rules that conflict with safety and soundness standards. But at a meeting with several community groups on Wednesday, top BoA executives said they were ready to give a consumer protection agency their support under certain conditions.

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