The bank stock bears at Merrill Lynch came out of hibernation early, downgrading several regionals and hinting that more downgrades are in the offing.

In a joint report titled "Pulling the Plug," analysts Sandra J. Flannigan, Livia S. Asher, and Judah S. Kraushaar on Tuesday downgraded Amsouth Bancorp. to "near-term below average" from "neutral," Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to "long-term neutral" from "market outperformer," and Huntington Bancshares to "near-term below average" from "neutral."

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