Moody’s Investor Services Inc. and other rating agencies cannot be considered underwriters for their role in the structuring of securities transactions to achieve the desired ratings for issuing banks, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled.

Thus, the Second Circuit said Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Inc. cannot be held liable under the securities laws for giving top ratings to mortgage-backed securities in advance of the collapse of the housing market and the demise of Lehman Brothers.