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Times Staff, Associated Press

Shares of online brokerage E-Trade Group (EGRP) zoomed $3.06, or 27%, to $14.50 on Nasdaq after the company reported fiscal fourth quarter earnings of $7.2 million, or 2 cents a share from continuing operations, compared with a loss of $26.7 million, or 12 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 76% to $340 million.

E-Trade had been expected to just break even as trading declined.

But the company said it ended September with 3.3 million accounts, more than double the 1.6 million it had a year earlier. Also, the average cost for each new account fell to $211 in the quarter from $291 in the fiscal third quarter, as E-Trade trimmed advertising and marketing spending. . . .

A bill that would keep the massive U.S. “derivative” securities markets largely unfettered and would allow trading of futures on individual stocks passed the House overwhelmingly Thursday. Trading in futures on specific stocks has been outlawed for 18 years, though futures trading on stock market indexes has become a huge business.


Individual stock futures would allow investors to commit to buy or sell a stock at a set price on a specific day in the future. The advantage of futures: large market bets could be made with little money down. That would be attractive both to speculators and to investors looking to hedge a portfolio.

But a futures contract imposes an obligation to buy or sell--as opposed to options, which give their holders the right to buy or sell.