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Equity Options Trading Continues Gains In February

ChicagoMarch 9, 1999

The Options Industry Council (OIC) announced today that equity options trading volume in February rose 18% from the same period last year as 26,995,448 contracts exchanged hands. The February 1998 figure was 22,927,216.

Average daily volume for the month was 1,418,708 contracts.

Open interest, or the total number of options contracts not yet exercised or allowed to expire, reached 33,298,486 at its highest point on February 19. Open interest is one indication of longer-term investing in equity options.

"Investors seem to be guarded about the performance of the market, particularly the technology sector, and many are using options as a way to protect against a possible downturn," said Paul Stevens, the OIC President.

An equity option is the right but not the obligation to either buy or sell 100 shares of stock at a predetermined price (strike price) on or before a fixed date (expiration date).

The OIC, which includes the American Stock Exchange, Chicago Board Options Exchange, Pacific Exchange, Philadelphia Stock Exchange and The Options Clearing Corporation, has an extensive educational program.

The program, aimed at current and potential investors and their brokers, includes a web site at www.optionscentral.com, two instructional videos: "How To Optimize Your Stock Portfolio With Options" and "Investing with LEAPS®" available at 800/952-8665, and free evening seminars throughout the continental United States and Canada.

Interactive educational software, "The Options Toolbox," is now available for free to seminar attendees. A print and broadcast advertising campaign has resulted in more than 225,000 inquiries seeking literature and videotapes.

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