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Morgan Stanley to seek Fed approval for more share buyback: WSJ

(Reuters) - Morgan Stanley plans to seek the U.S. Federal Reserve approval to widen the $500 million share buyback program cleared earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Better profits and completion of its purchase of the brokerage business of Citigroup Inc have helped Morgan Stanley bolster its case to push for a larger buyback program next year, a move aimed at boosting its return on equity, the paper said.

Large and complex banks must seek the Fed's approval to buy back their stock or pay a dividend to shareholders.

Morgan Stanley has not yet decided on what it will ask for in 2014 or if the figure will exceed the existing share repurchase program, according to the paper. (http://link.reuters.com/wed34v)

By the end of September, Morgan Stanley had spent $123 million of the $500 million it was authorized to buy back. This existing plan ends in March, the report said.

The company's fresh buyback plans may become clearer as soon as this week, when the regulator gives banks details on how to conduct "stress tests" on their balance sheets, the Journal said.

Morgan Stanley could not be reached immediately for comments by Reuters outside of regular U.S. business hours.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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