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Individuals Still Limit Trading, Schwab Says

The firm says daily trading is up only slightly so far this month from August, which was weak.

Retail investors at

Charles Schwab


traded a bit more on a daily basis in September's first week than they did in August, but that's not saying much.

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In a statement accompanying the firm's August market activity report, Schwab Co-CEO David Pottruck said that during September's first seven trading days, daily average revenue trades reached 215,000, up from 184,600 during August. But that August figure is off about 14% from July's average of 217,000 trades a day, and July was well off March's record of 346,900. (Revenue trades are simply trades that generate commissions.)

All this means that individuals still aren't trading much, which is sure to disappoint many market watchers who expect volume to pick up this month. Schwab is the biggest online broker, making it a good proxy for the industry and general individual trading trends.

Despite the decline, Schwab pushed assets held in customer accounts up above the $1 trillion mark for the first time as accounts grew to 7.3 million. Schwab customers also did better in the market in August than they had in July, Schwab Chief Financial Officer Chris Dodds said, as net market gains amounted to $56.7 billion compared with losses of $15.7 billion in July.

"I think generally speaking, it would be because of the market conditions affecting the equity component of our investors' holdings," Dodds said.

Dodds also said that he hopes trading will pick up in the fourth and first quarters, which are traditionally stronger times because of retirement and tax planning. Schwab shares were trading lower, off 38 cents at $37.13.