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June 30, 2000

Traders Tools For The Digital Age

By Peter Chapman

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The Securities Industry Association Technology Management Conference and Exhibit rolled out the red carpet for traders.

Vendors touted market data applications, order management systems, routing networks, analytics, electronic brokerage, flat panel screens and alternative trading systems.

Nearly 50 of the 250 exhibitors packed last month into three floors at the New York Hilton catered to both buy-side and sell-side trading rooms.

As usual at the annual event, the big four market data vendors - Reuters, Bloomberg, Bridge Information Systems and ILX - were a formidable presence. Two had new products.


From Reuters comes Reuters Pro, a frontend strictly for the buyside. Traders, analysts and portfolio managers can use it to customize the screen layout of their market information. Quotes, news, charts, technical indicators, First Call data and even internally-generated research can be organized and manipulated in a way that suits the trader. That's a big improvement over the inflexibility of the current model, Reuters executives claim.

About 150 technical indicators are included in the package. Those include such popular analytics as the accumulation/distribution ratio, the volume-at-price ratio, the average directional change (ADX), the directional moving index (DMI), and the relative strength of a stock to the S&P 500.

Other features include alert messages and interactive charts. A trader can program the software to alert himself or his portfolio manager if a stock hits a certain price. Clicking a particular point on a chart reveals a database of that day's news.

"It allows you to get the whole picture of both the market and an individual stock," said Mike Naughton, senior vice president of equities sales at Reuters.

Ease-of-use is a big part of the pitch. A wizard' offers step-by-step instructions that guide the trader through the configuration process. Once set up, data and information is accessed by preconfigured buttons and set-up tabs rather than menu commands. Everything is point-and-click. There are no commands involved.

Although it's new to the buyside, the sellside has had a similar application for about two years. Reuters Plus is on the desktops of 50,000 retail stock brokers. Based on data from Waters MDI, Reuters hopes for a potential market of between 83,000 and 87,000 screens for Reuters Pro.

Easier for Traders

Bridge wants to make it easy for the trader to get his market intelligence as well. The market data giant is partnering with a small Chicago television broadcaster to form WebFN, a 24-hour Internet-based financial news channel. It will become available to any trader with a Bridge terminal.

WebFN's chief executive Bob Reichblum says his service is a supplement to the existing information traders get from their Bridge terminals. "WebFN will deliver the news you need, but might be unaware of because it is happening while you are busy doing something else," he explained. "It is a constant and live source." Reichblum is a former programmer at CNBC.

The nucleus of WebFN is a 12-hour financial news channel called "The Stock Market Observer" which is produced by Chicago's Weigel Broadcasting. The show has aired in the Chicago area since 1968. Its anchors will soon be interacting with Bridge's reporters and brokerage analysts around the world.