Cutbacks but not closures...Merrill Lynch HSBC is cutting back international expansion of its online share-dealing service. Proposed launches in Germany and Japan have been put on ice. The company told the will now be concentrating efforts on operations in Australia, Canada and the UK. The fee for trading via the phone will be cut to bring it into line with online charges. Online stockbrokers have been hit by falling appetites for retail share dealing, matched by falling stock markets. It is an area of intense competition with many companies chasing a shrinking market. The number of online broking accounts has fallen 85 per cent since peaking 15 months ago. The company will focus on profitability rather than just growing market share.