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SEC, CFTC Formalize Cooperation Agreement

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said Tuesday that the SEC's agreement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission brings the two regulatory bodies closer to integrating their responsibilities.

"What the SEC and CFTC have done today is going to take us far down the road toward integration of our regulatory responsibilities even without any legislative change," Cox said in an exclusive interview with CNBC.

"We are using our existing legal authorities to integrate to the maxium extent possible what our agencies do, not just on the development of new products, but also in the enforcement and examination areas," Cox said.

Earlier, Cox told reporters the SEC was comfortable with capital levels at the five largest investment banks, including Bear Stearns.

"We are reviewing the adequacy of capital at the holding company level on a constant basis, daily in some cases," Cox said, according to a Reuters report.

"We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions that these firms have been on," he said. On Monday, speculation that Bear Stearns was facing a cash crunch drove its stock down to a five-year low of $60.34. The investment bank moved to quash the rumors, saying its balance sheet, liquidity and capital remained strong.

Bear Stearns shares extended losses on Tuesday, falling more than 10 percent to $55.85 on the New York Stock Exchange. Under a supervisory program, the SEC is in contact with investment banks Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley , Lehman Brothers Holdings , Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs .

The program is designed to allow the SEC to monitor and respond quickly to any financial and operational weakness in the companies.

-Reuters contributed to this report.

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