National Discount Brokers Edges Past DLJdirect and Newcomer Merrill Lynch to Take Top Spot in Barron’s Fifth Annual Online Broker Survey

National Discount Brokers Edges Past DLJdirect and Newcomer Merrill Lynch to Take Top Spot in Barron’s Fifth Annual Online Broker Survey

Business Editors

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 10, 2000

The March 13th edition of Barron’s, on sale and online (http://www.barrons.com/) tomorrow, reports that National Discount Brokers is the best Web site for trading stocks online. Barron’s’ fifth annual review of online brokers ranks the top twenty-five sites and lists the factors that make the Web the hottest of contemporary marketplaces. Last year’s winner, DLJdirect, was ranked second, in a dead heat with the recently launched Merrill Lynch Direct site. All three sites were awarded four stars, the highest rating.

In evaluating the competition for Best Online Broker, Barron’s Contributing Editor Theresa W. Carey writes, “We found the largest jump in quality since we started the series in 1996.” This across-the-board improvement has been characterized by fewer “bells and whistles” and more user control. This year’s review and rankings by Barron’s, the Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly, found that brokerage sites are less cluttered and run faster. In describing the size of the marketplace, Ms. Carey points out that there are currently over 100 online brokerages trading 13 million online accounts. The fourth quarter saw a record 1.8 million signups and by the end of the year, “nearly one in two retail trades was placed online.”

Beyond the top three sites, the next seven — American Express, Morgan Stanley, AB Watley Watley Trader, E*Trade, Muriel Siebert, Schwab, and Wall Street Electronica — were all awarded three and a half stars and were separated by barely more that a single point in their total score ranking.

In addition to Barron’s, Dow Jones & Company (NYSE: DJ: www.dj.com) publishes The Wall Street Journal and its international and Online editions, SmartMoney magazine and other periodicals, Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Indexes, and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with Reuters Group of Factiva, with Excite@Home of Work.com and with NBC of the CNBC television operations in Asia and Europe. Dow Jones also provides news content to CNBC in the United States.

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