Internet bank and brokerage E*Trade Financial is launching a global trading platform that will provide US retail customers with online access to foreign stocks and currencies in international markets.
The platform, which will be made widely available in the second quarter, allows E*Trade's US brokerage customers to buy and sell common stock in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the UK.
Users of the new system will have the ability to buy, hold and sell in the respective local currency.
E*Trade Finacial president and COO, R Jarrett Lilien, says demand for international investing continues to rise dramatically in the US and last year US investment in international mutual funds was greater than it was in US-based mutual funds - demonstrating the acceptance of investing outside the US as a real option for investors.
"Retail investors see international investments as a key component of overall portfolio diversification and, want the added benefit of direct share ownership," says Lilien.
E*Trade says the platform may be expanded to include online access to up to 42 international markets and related currencies.