Bank of America announced it will lay off about 2,500 employees as part of its $21 billion acquisition of LaSalle Bank Corp. Layoffs will begin in the first quarter, and will bring Bank of America's Illinois workforce down to 8,000 employees. Bank locations and lines of business to be affected by the layoffs have not yet been named.

Scott Silvestri, BAC spokesman, said, These layoffs, while painful, are a necessary first step toward meeting our long-term goals. Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama took the opportunity to disagree in a letter they submitted to BAC president Kenneth Lewis, wherein the legislators said they were deeply troubled by the layoffs and asked the company to reconsider. Job losses on this scale are difficult for any community to absorb, the letter stated. Presidential candidate Obama also took the opportunity to speak out in favor of the United Auto Workers this week.

Bank of America shares are down fractionally at midday. The beleaguered financial stock's 10-month and 20-month moving averages seem poised to form a bearish cross, although their weekly equivalents are now verging on a bullish formation. BAC could run into some resistance at the 52.50 level; peak call open interest for the October series of 22,948 rests at this out-of-the-money strike.