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Sunday, 03/05/2006 7:51:29 AM

Sunday, March 05, 2006 7:51:29 AM

Post# of 37
Electronic exchanges post gains

By Greg Morcroft, MarketWatch
Last Update: 10:33 AM ET Mar 1, 2006

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Shares of electronic securities exchanges rose Wednesday, helped by gains in International Securities Exchange after the company said its daily volume rose about 40% in February.
Earlier, the International Securities Exchange Inc. (ISEISE) said that average daily trading volume for equity and index options contracts rose 37.9% last month, to 2.4 million contracts compared to 1.7 million during the same period in 2005.
Total equity and index options volume for February also increased by 37.9%, to 44.8 million contracts from 32.5 million contracts.
International Securities Exchange shares rose about 2% to $46.13.
Shares of Intercontinental Exchange (ICEICE) , TradeStation (TRADTRAD) , Knight Capital (NITENITE) and Van der Moolen (VDMVDM) all rose.
Shares of online trading firms also rose at mid-week, moving up despite a report from a respected sector analyst who foresees a slowdown in February's trading.
Trading volumes for so-called e-brokers "should be down in a range of 6.5% to 12.5% from January. Our channel checks showed that volumes dropped off from a stellar January in February, particularly near the end of the month. We are modeling sequential declines for TD Ameritrade (AMTDAMTD) (-7.5%), E-Trade (ETET) (-6.5%), Charles Schwab (SCHWSCHW) (-10.0%), OptionsXpress (OXPSOXPS) (-10.0%), and TradeStation (-0.00%)," said Sandler O'Neill's Rich Repetto.
Also Wednesday, Chicago Mercantile Holdings Inc. (CMECME) got a lift as average daily volume for February rose 26% to 4.7 million contracts. Open interest set a record for the month, coming in above 40 million positions. Total options reached 1.2 million contracts per day in February, an increase of 44% year-over-year.
In the broader financial sector, the Amex Securities Broker/Dealer Index ($XBD$XBD) , the Philadelphia Bank Sector Index ($BKX$BKX) and the S&P Insurance Index (IUXIUX) all were in the rise.
Greg Morcroft is New York news editor of MarketWatch.


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