LONDON Oct 4 (Reuters) - Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, two large United States-based trading firms, are shutting down some of their European businesses, marking the latest casualties of a slow trading year in the region.
Charles Schwab warned clients on Tuesday it would close the European arm of OptionsXpress, its derivatives trading unit, on Nov. 30.
Schwab told customers in an email seen by Reuters: "It is important that you take steps today to transfer your account to another company or liquidate your positions and withdraw your funds."
A spokesman for Schwab confirmed on Thursday that OptionsXpress was closing in Europe and stressed that clients should contact the broker if they need help moving accounts.
Separately, TD Ameritrade, which competes with Schwab for trades from retail investors, told clients last month it had stopped taking new business in some countries and would focus instead on selling assets only.
Ameritrade's president of retail distribution, Tom Bradley, wrote in an emailed letter to clients: "We have made the business decision to no longer open new accounts or handle new business transactions for clients located in certain foreign countries."
Italy and Belgium are the countries where accounts will be closed, according to the firm, while a handful of other European countries may be affected for specific types of transactions.
A spokeswoman for TD Ameritrade said on Thursday: "We constantly evaluate our list of countries and from time to time we may take steps to limit the business coming from those countries for a variety of reasons."
Brokers such as Schwab and Ameritrade make money by finding the best share deals available for their clients, mostly wealthy individuals speculating on stock markets.
But European brokers have struggled to maintain profits this year as investors have quit trading due to continued uncertainty about the future of the euro zone.
European share trading for the year has been at its lowest level since 2009 and is currently tracking down about one-fifth on last year.
Many brokers, including Deutsche Bank, Nomura and UBS, restructured their European equities units in recent months, leading to heavy job cuts.