Merrill Lynch, Inc, is expected to report a loss for the first quarter of the year on Thursday, and is also expected to write down several billion dollars' worth of securities linked to the falling housing market, along with markdowns related to mono-line bond insurers and leveraged buyouts.

Shares of the New York-based bank have already fallen about 20 percent this year. In the past two quarters it has written down $22.5 billion in assets.

A poll of analysts expects a consensus loss on Thursday of $1.99 per share for the first quarter, compared to a profit of $2.26 per share last year, according to Thomson Financial.

Net write-downs for the Wall Street firm are varied.

Among the expectations is a $4.2 billion markdown, according to Deutsche Bank analysts led by Mike Mayo, in a March 31 report. A separate report from analyst David Trone, with Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller, expects write- downs as high as $8 billion, according to a March 20 report.

Merrill Lynch shares are expected to hover at a range within several dollars of their current price, which currently stands at $43.34 as of the end of normal trading hours on Tuesday.

Goldman Sachs analysts led by William Tanona lowered their price target for Merrill Lynch on April 1 to $42 from $45. Deutsche Bank has a hold on shares at $46 as of March 31.