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Morgan Stanley firing 1,000 mortgage workers

Morgan Stanley is firing 1,000 people at its U.S. and U.K. mortgage lending units. The New York investment bank says it will scale back mortgage operations in the United States.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Morgan Stanley on Wednesday said it will cut 1,000 jobs as the nation's second-largest investment bank trims its residential mortgage operations amid the continued deterioration of the mortgage markets.

The New York-based company said it will shutter its U.K. business that issues home loans and significantly scale back its mortgage business in the United States. Morgan Stanley joins hundreds of lenders in scaling back operations as the worst U.S. housing market in 26 years slows economic growth.

"Given the continued dislocation in the mortgage markets, we have restructured our residential mortgage business to ensure we are appropriately positioned for the environment going forward," said Anthony Meola, chief operating officer of the U.S. residential business, in a statement.

Morgan Stanley said it will continue to service loans in the U.S. through its Saxon Mortgage Services units. It will also offer residential mortgages to brokerage clients through Morgan Stanley Credit Corp.

It couldn't immediately be determined how many people are employed in Morgan Stanley's residential mortgage business.

Banks and brokers have eliminated more than 25,000 jobs in the past six months as they racked up $150 billion of write-downs and credit losses tied to mortgage securities. Morgan Stanley last month announced it was cutting 1,000 jobs in operations, technology and other areas because of the market downturn.

A spokesman for Morgan Stanley was unable to provide a breakdown on how many jobs would be lost in the U.S. and U.K. The company had about 48,000 employees overall as of November.

In December, Morgan Stanley took a $9.4 billion write-down because of losses on mortgage-related securities — and quickly raised $5 billion from Chinese investors to rebuild its capital base. Zoe Cruz, the company's co-president who was considered to be an heir to Chief Executive John Mack, was forced out of her job.

Wall Street investment banks spent the past few years beefing up their residential mortgage businesses to take advantage of the once-booming market. However, increasing defaults among subprime borrowers caused mortgage-backed securities to plummet since the summer.

This has caused job cuts among the big Wall Street firms scrambling to scale back their mortgage operations. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Credit Suisse Group have announced since late January they are eliminating about 1,600 jobs.

Morgan Stanley shares edged up 20 cents at $42.91 in afternoon trading.