Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., which has agreed to sell itself to Bank of America Corp., posted its fifth straight quarterly loss Thursday, reporting another $9.5 billion in writedowns of troubled assets.

The world's largest brokerage firm by number of brokers said its net third-quarter loss widened to $5.15 billion, or $5.58 a share, from $2.24 billion, or $2.82 a share, a year earlier.

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