Internet share dealing at an all-time high

Around one-third of private investors trading in stocks and shares now use the Internet rather then the telephone, according to new figures

The number of people with online trading accounts in the UK has reached an all-time high of 395,000, according to The Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers (APCIMS), an organisation representing stockbrokers and investment managers.

Brian Mairs, head of information at the APCIMS, said this figure is more than double the number of online traders during the tech stock boom.

The news comes as private investors -- who have been left with burnt fingers following the decline in technology shares since 2000 -- seem to be returning to the market. At the same time, investors are steadily switching from traditional telephone-based trading services to the Internet, according to APCIMS' figures.

According to a survey published by the APCIMS, online share-trading activity among private investors increased this year after falling for almost three years in a row, which Mairs believes could be a sign that the economy is recovering.

"These are very encouraging figures for the entire industry," said Mairs, who said confidence and optimism in the market is growing.

The APCIMS said that over the past year, the number of online trades per quarter had been steady at around 500,000, but during the three months to June this year, that figure increased by 42 percent to more than 700,000. During the quarter, both the volume and value of shares traded by private investors increased by around 20 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

ComPeer, the company that conducted the survey, has been tracking trading activity among private investors since 1991, when it started an index to monitor private investor activity. Having started at 100, the index currently stands at 179, which is up 21 percent from the preceeding quarter. However, this is short of the 203 level it achieved in the same quarter last year. During Q1 2000, it hit an all-time high of just under 500.