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Equity Options Volume Continues Gains In March First quarter volume exceeds 2000 by 15.9 percent

ChicagoApril 4, 2001

The Options Industry Council (OIC) today announced that March equity options volume reached 69,254,423 contracts (28,057,756 puts and 41,196,667 calls), a 4.7 percent increase from the 66,172,654 contracts (18,775,144 puts and 47,397,510 calls) traded in March 2000. First quarter equity options volume of 199,563,802 contracts rose 15.9 percent over 2000's first quarter volume of 172,166,035 contracts.

"March's market activity caused options investors to react cautiously by employing defensive strategies," said Paul Stevens, President, OIC. "We encourage investors to learn more about these protective options strategies by contacting our call center or accessing the free information available on OIC's Web site."

Average daily equity options volume in March was 3,147,928 contracts, a 9.4 percent increase over 2,877,072 contracts traded in March 2000. First quarter average daily volume was 3,218,771 contracts, a 17.7 percent increase over 2,732,794 contracts in first quarter 2000.

March month-end equity open interest was 69,118,869 contracts vs. 53,809,311 contracts in 2000, a 28.4 percent increase. At its highest point on March 16, equity open interest stood at 73,612,997 contracts. Equity open interest, the total number of options contracts not yet exercised or allowed to expire, is seen as an indication of longer-term investing in these instruments.

OIC is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 by the nation's options exchanges to provide investor education about equity options. Today, its members include The American Stock Exchange, Chicago Board Options Exchange, International Securities Exchange, Pacific Exchange, Philadelphia Stock Exchange and The Options Clearing Corporation. OIC's free educational programs include: an educational Web site at www.888options.com, evening seminars throughout the continental United States and Canada, instructional videos, educational brochures and interactive software. More information on these resources is available by visiting the Web site, calling 1-888-OPTIONS, or sending e-mail to options@theocc.com.

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