Competition to win new listings has fueled consolidation among specialty firms at the New York Stock Exchange for the last few years, and observers expect the trend to continue.

Bear Stearns Cos. said Thursday that it had agreed to buy Wagner Stott Mercator LLC, which makes markets in 226 stocks traded on the Big Board, including Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., for $625 million. The combined operation, to be called Wagner Stott Bear, would specialize in 359 stocks and would be the third-largest in trading volume.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.