The Senate ethics committee yesterday completed its sixth day of deliberations on the "Keating Five" case with what was described as "some narrowing of differences" but no decision on the propriety of five senators' ties to savings and loan executive Charles H. Keating Jr.

As recently as a couple of days ago, the committee had hoped to reach at least tentative conclusions before the start yesterday of a 10-day congressional recess.

But a source familiar with the deliberations said after yesterday's session that the panel now does not expect to make a decision until several days after Congress returns from its President's Day recess Feb. 19.

At issue is whether the senators intervened improperly with thrift regulators on behalf of Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan at a time Keating was raising or contributing more than $1.3 million to their campaigns and political causes.

The senators -- Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), John Glenn (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.) -- were the subject of an unprecedented 2-month-long public hearing that ended Jan. 16. All denied any wrongdoing.

The committee source said the six-member panel has "started coming together, not entirely {but} reaching some substantial consensus" on the ethical standards that apply to the cases and begun to consider application of the standards to individual cases.

During the hearings, committee counsel Robert S. Bennett contended the standards were as high as those affecting other government officials, embracing appearance of wrongdoing as well as actual misconduct. But members appeared to differ considerably in their perception of the standards as well as the standards' application to the five cases.

Testimony and evidence at the hearing indicated that Cranston faces the possibility of the most serious discliplinary action, although the panel reportedly has not decided what form it would take. Cranston is recuperating from treatment for prostate cancer in California but is expected to return to Washington within the next several weeks.

Bennett last year recommended taking no further action against Glenn and McCain, and they are seen as being in the least trouble. The DeConcini and Riegle cases appear to be the most difficult for the committee to resolve, in part because of conflicting testimony about their roles and the relationship between their intervention and contributions from Keating.

However, sources have cautioned that the cases are extremely complicated, both in trying to define standards that many senators regard as vague and assessing the intervention by the senators and its relationship, if any, to the money they got from Keating. "If anyone tried to diagram it, it would look like a madman's puzzle," according to one participant.