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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 01:47 GMT
Merrill Lynch moves into loss
The US brokerage giant Merrill Lynch has posted its first quarterly loss since 1998.

Merill Lynch, which is in the midst of a restructuring involving 9,000 job cuts, took a hefty charge to pay for the layoffs.

The firm reported a loss of $1.26bn, or $1.51 per share, for the October to December quarter and a restructuring charge of $1.7bn.

Like its peers, the brokerage has been hit by the drying up of business for its equities departments as weak stock markets have led to a sharp drop in corporate mergers and acquisitions.

"Although equity markets showed signs of stabilising, the fourth quarter operating environment remained challenging," the firm said.

Analysts agreed: "It looks like, in a lot of the businesses, (Merrill Lynch has) reached a bottom," said David Trone of Prudential Securities.

Wall Street had been expecting Merill Lynch to post earnings of at least 40 cents a share, according to a consensus of analysts' estimates taken by Thomson Financial/First Call.

See also:

09 Jan 02 | Business
Merrill Lynch cuts 9,000 jobs
23 Oct 01 | Business
Merrill offers redundancy plan
17 Oct 01 | Business
Banks blame attacks for profits woes
16 Jul 01 | Business
Three Wall Street giants downgraded
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