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Many Indiana stocks decline despite ban

September 25, 2008

Three-quarters of Indiana stocks for which short-selling has been banned have lost value since the ban took effect last week.

Fifteen of the 20 Indiana financial services firms put on the list by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 18 have seen their shares drop.

The SEC banned short-selling because of concern that speculators were unfairly punishing financial shares.

Nationally, the ban affected 942 banks and insurance companies. In Indiana, affected companies included Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., Carmel-based Conseco Inc. and a host of community banks.

Forty-four percent of the 942 stocks have underperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 Index since the SEC unveiled the list on Sept. 18, according to Bloomberg.

"It's hard to tell in less than a matter of a week," said Mark Foster, chief investment officer at Kirr, Marbach & Co., a money manager in Columbus, Ind. He added, "People felt that (the ban) was a help but not a savior sort of thing."

Conseco was the biggest loser among the Indiana stocks. From the close of trading on Sept. 18 until the close of trading yesterday, its shares fell nearly 40 percent, to $4.78 apiece.

In the same period, Indianapolis insurers WellPoint and Baldwin & Lyons each saw their share prices fall 4 percent.

Only four Indiana stocks have gained since the ban went into effect. They are Indiana Community Bancorp and Irwin Financial Corp., both in Columbus; Lafayette-based LSB Financial Corp.; and Greensburg-based MainSource Financial Group.

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