Amro to Buy Merrill's Energy Futures Unit

CHICAGO - ABN Amro Inc. said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy the energy futures and options business of Merrill Lynch & Co., including the clearing and execution of exchange-listed energy futures, options, and commodities.Merrill's energy futures team would join the global futures group at the Dutch bank, which said the deal was part of a strategy of expanding its global energy operations. Merrill Lynch said it had concluded it was not a core business.

- Laura Mandaro

Deutsche Loses New York Pension Funds

NEW YORK - Deutsche Bank AG's U.S. fund management unit lost its biggest customer on Tuesday when New York City Retirement Systems switched most of its $44 billion account to Barclays Global Investors and Merrill Lynch & Co.New York officials explaining the switch cited the defection of key Deutsche executives to Merrill Lynch last July.

- Bloomberg News

Moody's Upgrades Mexico Foreign Debt

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's long-term foreign debt obligations were boosted Tuesday to investment grade by Moody's Investors Service, a move that sparked a stock and currency rally on expectations of increased foreign investment.Moody's said Mexico faces lower risks on meeting its debt obligations because of its strong ties to the U.S. economy and its strong capital flows.

- Bloomberg News

Calif. Company Quits Wholesale Mortgages

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. - Eldorado Bancshares Inc. said Tuesday that it would close its wholesale mortgage division, Commerce Security Mortgage.In a statement, Eldorado's president and chief executive Robert Keller said higher interest rates and aggressive price competition had hurt the performance of Commerce Security and, hence, that of the parent company. Commerce Security is based in Sacramento, Calif., and has about 100 employees.

The company said that in anticipation of shuttering the unit, it took $7.5 million of one-time expenses, such as goodwill and severance, in the fourth quarter of 1999. As a result, the parent company suffered a $3.4 million loss for the year, compared with a $5.4 million profit the year before.

- Marc Hochstein

SEC Shelves Single-Market-Regulator Plan

WASHINGTON - The Securities and Exchange Commission has postponed indefinitely consideration of combining the self-policing units of the U.S. stock markets into a single organization, a commission official said."The system is working today, and we don't want to force a model that not everyone's enthusiastic about," SEC market-regulation director Annette Nazareth said in an interview.

The SEC has planned to decide by June whether to recommend forming a single self-regulator that would combine all or parts of the policing units of the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and other U.S. exchanges. SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt floated the idea in September as a way to avert conflicts of interest between industry regulators and rival brokerages that they oversee.

Several large brokerages, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Credit Suisse First Boston, endorsed the idea before Congress last week.

However, influential U.S. senators, including Texas Republican Phil Gramm and New York Democrat Charles Schumer, have opposed it, saying it would harm the New York Stock Exchange. Small firms also have expressed concern that a centralized regulator would be a captive of the large brokerages.

- Bloomberg News

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