Federal securities regulators voted Wednesday to finalize rules intended to curb conflicts of interest and promote competition in the ratings business, but they postponed action on more controversial changes.

To combat potential conflicts in ratings decisions, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to prohibit a firm from rating a security if the firm or an affiliate helped structure it, to bar employees who work on ratings from participating in fee discussions or arrangements, and to ban them from accepting more than $25 of gifts from security issuers, underwriters, or sponsors.

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