Merrill Lynch looks to play things safe

NEW YORK: Merrill Lynch jarred the securities industry last week by

barring its stock analysts from buying shares of the companies they


"This is a result of investor concerns," said Susan McCabe, Merrill

Lynch spokesperson. "We wanted to remove any doubt or perception that

subjectivity exists."

The new rule will affect 20% of Merrill Lynch's 600 analysts. Employees

were alerted to the policy change via e-mail on the same day that

Merrill Lynch issued a press release detailing its new policy.

Lou Thompson, president and CEO of the National Investor Relations

Institute, called the firm's action "a move in the right direction."

Thompson said he believes that Merrill Lynch, like the rest of the

securities industry, is taking steps to avoid government regulation.

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