Shares of A.G. Edwards surged Thursday as merger speculators turned their attention to the St. Louis brokerage.

A.G. Edwards rose $2.125, or 4.34% to $51.0625 on a day when most brokerage stocks languished. Elsewhere in the market, bank stocks rose as concerns about higher interest rates abated. The Labor Department said the employment cost index rose only 1% in the second quarter, indicating that Federal Reserve policymakers are less likely to raise rates at their meeting next month. The American Banker index of 50 largest banks gained 0.43%, and its index of 225 banks fell 0.2%.

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