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Nasdaq trades news

The technology exchange will offer investors free stock quotes and email of news about companies, competing with firms like Quote.Com.

PALM SPRINGS, California--By the end of this month, the Nasdaq stock market will offer investors free stock quotes and email notification of news about companies in their portfolios, competing with such Web start-ups as Quote.Com.

In exchange for their email address and limited information about their investing activity, subscribers to the Nasdaq service can get 15-minute-delayed quotes on any stock in their portfolio. Subscribers may establish up to ten portfolios with 30 stocks apiece, indicating that Nasdaq expects investors to include stocks on their "wish lists," as well as ones they currently own.

Companies listed with Nasdaq will get email addresses of investors who have registered that company in their portfolio. Brokerage houses that do business with Nasdaq also will get those addresses.

Nasdaq expects to enroll 50,000 to 100,000 investors within months. The email notifications will point to stories carried by Reuters news service and company press releases distributed on BusinessWire.

"We want to position ourselves as the primary source for all financial information, domestic and international," said John Delta, Nasdaq's director of operations management.

The service will offer quotes on stocks and mutual funds listed on any major U.S. or foreign exchange, not just the Nasdaq system. But only Nasdaq firms will be get email addresses of investors who sign up for portfolios. Nasdaq hopes the service will help keep companies listed on its system from jumping to other exchanges.

"It's hard for companies to find the true owners of their stock," said John Wall, Nasdaq executive vice president. Most stock is held in the name of the investor's brokerage firm, making it difficult for firms to communicate directly with shareholders.

Asked about privacy issues concerning the identification of email addresses, Wall said, "You have the choice of not doing it." He noted that very few brokerages use email heavily today.

Nasdaq also outlined aggressive plans to add more financial information to the investor service, including RealAudio interviews within a month. In addition, the company plans to unveil a Java-based ticker on its Web page that will use company logos rather than trading symbols to identify stock prices.

Later, it expects to provide free, detailed data on the time and prices of stock sales, information now offered for top dollar to institutional investors who use it to analyze the market.

Wall played down the competition with Quote.Com and other online financial services. "We will do more basic data," he said. "Quote.Com is going to do far more sophisticated services."

The goal is to build traffic at the Nasdaq site. "Our experience is that content seemed to drive things, even more than our advertising did," Delta said.