SEC chairwoman to step down

WASHINGTON — Mary Schapiro said Monday she will step down as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission next month.

Schapiro, who has headed the Wall Street watchdog since 2009, had been widely expected to depart the commission after the presidential election.

"It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to work with so many dedicated SEC staff who strive every day to protect investors and ensure our markets operate with integrity," Schapiro said in a written statement.

Her five-year term does not expire until January 2014, but it's rare for chairs to serve more than four years. The SEC noted that Schapiro has served longer than 24 of the previous 28 chairs.

Schapiro, the first woman to serve as a noninterim chair of the agency, said that her last day would be Dec. 14.

President Barack Obama on Monday designated Elisse Walter as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it's unclear if the Democratic commissioner will be the permanent replacement for Schapiro.

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