Bloomberg News

NEW YORK - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., and five other securities firms agreed to create a Web site to provide institutional investors with one place to go for research and other financial information.

TheMarkets.com will begin operating during the fourth quarter. Access to the site will be free of charge.

Other firms included in the venture include Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., Citigroup Inc.'s Salomon Smith Barney Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, and UBS Warburg LLC. Goldman, Merrill, Morgan Stanley, and Salomon, the initial partners in the venture, invited the other three firms to join.

"We're going be relying on the firms for a lot of the content and market data," but the management will be separate, said Duncan Niederauer, Goldman's head of electronic stock trading strategy. The group is looking for a chief executive to run the company.

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