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Net brokerage Web site traffic slipping

A Jupiter Communications and Media Metrix study says the number of women and high-income Internet users going to online trading sites is steadily decreasing.

Individual investors may now be putting their own temporary "hold" rating on Internet financial trading sites, according to a study.

While Web banking sites have grown in popularity, women and high-income investors are heading to online brokerage sites less often, according to a survey released today by research company Jupiter Media Metrix.

The study found that the number of women and high-income Web users going to online trading sites has decreased 38 percent and 27 percent respectively. High-income Internet users were defined as people living in households earning more than $100,000 annually.

The study also found that the number of people who visited online trading sites fell nearly 20 percent from March through July of this year, despite an overall growth in online business and finance traffic of 11 percent.

Analysts attributed the decrease in online trading traffic to the stock market downturn in April.

Consumer banking Web sites kept the business and finance area strong, with 37 percent growth in visitors during the same time frame, according to the survey.

The survey shows a shift from earlier reports that said Web banking sites could face challenges as scores of new online brokerages threaten to take over their turf.