Deals and rumors of deals drove the region's top stocks last week.

Cadmus Communications Corp. stock jumped after the Richmond agency announced it would sell its direct marketing division.

Shares of Prime Retail Inc. moved up when the Baltimore real estate investment trust announced it was moving ahead on the sale of three outlet malls to foreign investors.

Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. stock got a pop from plans to spin off its Prometric computer-based testing division into a separate company by selling some stock in an initial public offering and giving the rest to shareholders.

And Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc.'s stock made the biggest move of all after it acquired a batch of branches, setting off speculation that it was becoming a prime takeover target.

Sandy Spring picked up five branches from Pittsburgh's Mellon Bank Corp., which gave up its effort to break into the Washington market. The acquisition boosted the bank's assets past the $1.5 billion mark and added $6 to its stock price.

The long-planned acquisition of the Mellon operations itself should not have been any reason for the bank's stock to jump, said Calvin Koonce of Koonce Securities Inc. in Bethesda.

"There was a lot of buying" on Thursday, Koonce said. "It looked like someone thought there was going to be a corporate event of some kind."

Whatever the stock buyers were expecting hasn't happened yet, but Sandy Spring's stock closed Friday at $31 a share.

It was a listless week in the market for most Washington stocks. The Washington Post-Bloomberg regional stock index, representing companies in the District, Maryland and Virginia, closed down Friday for the fifth week in a row. The index lost a little more than a point, or about six-tenths of 1 percent.

Among the week's hardest-hit stocks were two health care providers, Trigon Healthcare Inc. and Mid Atlantic Medical Services Inc. Health care stocks were whacked by reports that the class-action lawyers who have been harassing the tobacco industry are planning massive lawsuits on behalf of patients who are not satisfied with the quality of their care.