A Securities and Exchange Commission official yesterday warned market participants that the SEC might view below-market bids from issuers on their own auction-rate securities as possible market manipulation, but declined to say what a below-market rate would be.

Mary Simpkins, senior special counsel in the SEC's Office of Municipal Securities, told market participants at The Bond Buyer's conference on The Municipal Credit Crunch here that she could not provide any additional details beyond the SEC's March 14 guidance that lays out a general framework under which issuers may bid on their own securities.

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