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E*Trade to add new features

The company says it is planning to spruce up its product offerings to stay abreast of the competition.

SAN FRANCISCO--E*Trade is planning to spruce up its product offerings to stay abreast of the competition.

Addressing analysts at the BancAmerica Robertson Stephens Technology '98 conference here, E*Trade senior vice president for advanced products, Rebecca Patton, said today that new features will be brought online in April.

"We are enriching the online experience," she said.

E*Trade is faced with increasing competition from rivals including Ameritrade and Suretrade, as well as Charles Schwab, which has been doing some system and service upgrades of its own. (See related story)

New features at E*Trade will include personalization, business news alerts, and chat. A new fee-based area called Professional Edge will provide access to Robertson Stephens's research and analysis. That section will also include information about initial public offerings and a calendar of upcoming conferences.

E*Trade will continue adding content and services to the free parts of the site in order to attract traffic, according to Patton.

One section of the site, E*Trade Live, will track markets in real time and cover indexes, ratings, real-time analysis and news, and E*Trade users' most frequently traded stocks.

In an attempt to build what Patton termed an "E*Trade community," the Research Center will provide analyst estimates, charts, message boards, and chat. A feature called the Pulse will provide streaming real-time quotes, and an alert box will notify users when trades are completed.

Recent additions to the E*Trade site include mutual funds and mutual fund research. The company also handled its first initial public stock offering, for CBS SportsLine.