Equity Options Volume Sets New Monthly Record First Quarter Total Up by 79% Over Same Period in 1999

ChicagoApril 5, 2000

The Options Industry Council (OIC) announced today that equity options volume for March hit a new record with 66,172,654 contracts - surpassing the previous record of 56,190,292 set in January. The March 2000 figure shows a 92% increase over March 1999 (34,524,034). First quarter trading in equity options totaled 172,166,035 cleared contracts, a 79% increase over the same period last year (96,284,473).

Average daily equity options volume in March was also a new record at 2,877,072 contracts, up from 1,418,708, or 103%, over the same period last year. Open interest reached its highest point this month with 58,079,807 open contracts. Equity open interest is the total number of options contracts not yet exercised or allowed to expire and is one indication of longer-term investing in equity options.

"It is encouraging to note that with the market's recent unprecedented volatility, pitting the 'new economy' against the 'old economy,' investors are continuing to take advantage of the equity option tool to help stabilize their portfolio," said Paul Stevens, OIC's President. "If the first quarter results are any indication, the equity options industry is headed for a benchmark year."

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).

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 the following free resources: a web site at www.optionscentral.com, evening seminars throughout the continental United States and Canada, two instructional videos: "How To Optimize Your Stock Portfolio With Options" and "Investing with LEAPS" (available at 800/952-8665), and "The Options Toolbox" educational software available through the 800 number or web site. A print and broadcast advertising campaign has resulted in more than 250,000 inquiries seeking OIC's educational products.

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