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Swing back to bank stocks is overdone, says Merrill Lynch

Times Online – The fashionable investment tactic of the past month – buying bank stocks while selling energy companies – could already have gone too far, Merrill Lynch, the financial management group, warned clients yesterday.

In mid-July, hedge funds, pension funds and other institutional investors dramatically reversed their enthusiasm for energy stocks and loathing for financials in an abrupt about-turn that sent bank shares soaring and oil and gas companies sinking.

But Merrill said yesterday that the unwinding of the classic bet of the credit crunch may already have been overdone, giving warning that banks across Europe could still be forced to raise between $70 billion (£37 billion) and $120 billion in new equity on top of the $120 billion already raised. Barclays and HBOS looked most vulnerable among UK banks to having to go back to their shareholders for more equity on top of the £4.5 billion and £4 billion, respectively, already raised.

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