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Online trading heats up

Lombard Brokerage will cut its commission by more than 50 percent for its online transactions, bringing the firm in line with competitors in the burgeoning market of electronic securities trading.

Lombard Brokerage will cut its commission by more than 50 percent for its online transactions, bringing the firm in line with competitors in the burgeoning market of electronic securities trading.

Investors hot to make a trade can pony up a minimum of $14.95 to buy and sell up to 5,000 shares electronically. Orders beyond that number will incur a flat fee of 1 cent a share.

That price is being cut from Lombard's minimum commission of $34 a trade, in addition to a $2.50 handling fee.

Lombard was one of the first brokerages to launch full-scale online transaction services. Online brokerage firms have proliferated in recent months since the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that such operations are legal as long as they meet certain requirements to ensure investor safety.

While Lombard is lowering its price, competitors have a similar deal already in the works. E*Trade, for example, charges $14.95 for online trades on the New York Stock Exchange and American Stock Exchange.

So why is Lombard now jumping on the bandwagon? "One of the things is they wanted to pass some of the efficencies they've gotten through their operation onto their customer," said Lise Olson, spokeswoman. "Competition also is a factor as well...We see traders who want more trades at a better price."