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Ways to Go Global

Physician's Money Digest, July 2007, Volume 14, Issue 7

Buying foreign stocks that only traded on foreign indexes used to be a big hassle. Brokers typically charge close to $100 per trade plus a currency exchange fee. As a result, most people only invested in foreign companies trading on Wall Street, thereby limiting their exposure to only 500 companies. Today, however, two options exist that allow investors to easily and cheaply trade online stocks of almost 14,000 foreign companies. According to Business Week, E*Trade has recently launched its Global Trading Account that allows realtime access to exchanges in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and Britain. The total costs per stock trade, including currency exchange fees, work out to only about $20. The least expensive foreign trading option is offered by Interactive Brokers, which trades in 10 foreign markets and has lower currency exchange rates than E*Trade. The exchange fee at E*Trade for $10,000 worth of euros is 1.25% or $125, whereas Interactive charges only $2.50 for the same purchase. Despite this advantage, Business Week still rates E*Trade higher in terms of ease of use and scope of products and services.