Small investors retreated from stock trading in May -E*Trade

NEW YORK, June 2 Mon Jun 2, 2014 6:25pm EDT

NEW YORK, June 2 (Reuters) - E*Trade Financial Corp on Monday said its customers averaged about 148,000 trades a day in May, down 14 percent from their daily volume in April and about 9 percent lower than in May 2013.

Investors and analysts monitor monthly trading data from discount brokers such as E*Trade to get a sense of investor confidence in the stock market and investing in general. Assets flowing into mutual funds along with trading in individual stocks has gradually increased in recent years from very low levels following the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Though trading was especially strong at the end of 2013, it has been declining on a monthly basis this year at TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, Charles Schwab Corp and E*Trade, the largest publicly traded brokerage firms that offer low-commission trading to retail investors.

E*Trade's monthly trading report is the first among the discount brokers this year to register a year-over-year decline. In April, its daily average trades were 21 percent higher than in the same month of 2013, though down 13 percent from March 2014.

Daily trades at E*Trade, the smallest of the three discount brokerage firms with about 3.1 million brokerage accounts, averaged 197,000 in March, 171,000 in April and 148,000 in May.

The March and April trading data were higher than for the comparable months in 2013, but May's average daily trading volume was off from almost 163,000 in May 2013.

TD Ameritrade and Schwab have not yet reported their May trading metrics, but have reported steadily decreasing month-over-month trading in each of this year's first four months.

E*Trade plans to issue additional May data as part of its standard monthly report on or about June 13. It released the trading number early to conform with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's fair disclosure requirements because it is presenting the monthly data to stock analysts at a meeting on Monday evening.

The company also said Monday that regulators allowed it to move $75 million from its bank subsidiary to the parent company this quarter, a sign that E*Trade continues to recover from bad loans at the bank that nearly killed the company during the financial crisis. (Reporting by Jed Horowitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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