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Online brokers see sequential rise in February DARTs

Online brokers saw trading activity pick up sequentially in February as daily average revenue trades increased across the board. Growth in client assets remained strong with double-digit year-over-year gains.

E*TRADE Financial Corp. booked the highest year-over-year increase in DARTs in February. The online broker saw DARTs increase to 218,964 in February, up 33.5% from February 2016. The company reported DARTs of 201,464 in January.

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. grew its DARTs 5.3% year over year in February to 534,000. DARTs had fallen 7.79% year over year to 521,000 for the company in January.

TradeStation Group Inc. continued to post a double-digit year-over-year decline in DARTs for the second straight month in 2017. The company saw the steepest drop of the group as DARTs fell 27.9% year over year to 99,588 in February. The company booked DARTs of 95,505 in January.

For Interactive Brokers Group Inc., DARTs fell 11.6% year over year in February to 678,000. Trading activity was better than it was a month earlier, however, when the broker/dealer posted DARTs of 646,000.

Discount broker Charles Schwab Corp., which does not report DARTs on a monthly basis, posted daily average revenue trades of 293,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016, up from 285,000 in the year-ago quarter.

Charles Schwab, E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade, along with Fidelity Investments, have recently been locked in a trade commission pricing war, leading to a decline of the average trade commission fee for U.S. equities at the four brokers to $5.95 per trade as of March 3, compared to the $9.22 per-trade average as of Feb. 1.

The reductions could shrink commission revenues by 16% to 20% for the industry, Sandler O'Neill analyst Richard Repetto said in a recent note.

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Total client assets climbed for most online brokers in this analysis in February with Interactive Brokers continuing to lead with a 40.5% year-over-year increase. E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade posted year-over-year gains of 24.6% an 24.3%, respectively, in the month. Schwab and TradeStation saw total client assets rise by 19% and 18.6%, respectively, compared to February 2016.

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