Investors in asset-backed securities, their confidence damaged by the problems at Mercury Finance Co., may be scaling back their purchases of new issues backed by subprime loans.

Issues made up of mortgages for people with bruised credit and home equity loans could be dragged down along with used-car loans, in which Mercury specialized, industry experts said. No dumping of existing securities was evident, but investors were clearly looking upon the subprime sector with new skepticism.

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