As expected, Merrill Lynch became the umpteenth financial institution to take record write-downs linked to the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. The U.S. investment bank's announced $14.1 billion in adjustments in the fourth quarter came in near the top of the range of $10 to $15 billion that analysts had predicted.

Merrill reported a net loss of $9.8 billion or $12.01 per share, the largest in the company's history. One year earlier the bank had a fourth quarter profit of $2.3 billion or $2.41 per share.

In the third quarter Merrill had a $2.3 billion loss and took an $8.4 billion write-down. Subprime related losses for the entire year are in the range of $23 billion.

On Tuesday, in an attempt to head off some of the repercussions from the quarterly reporting Merrill announced it had arranged to raise $6.6 billion in cash through the sale of preferred convertible stock to Middle Eastern and Asian investors including the Kuwait Investment Authority, Japan's Mizuho Corporate Bank, and the Korean Investment Corporation.