Brokerage app signups soar as coronavirus causes stock market plunge

Stocks have been on a rollercoaster in recent weeks as the spread of the new coronavirus disrupts the global economy. Account openings for brokerage apps suggest some retail investors may be looking for bargains.

In the UK, Freetrade says it has had record account openings almost every day, with 125% more of them on March 20 than the daily average of the previous few weeks. A spokesperson for San Francisco-based Charles Schwab said the brokerage is seeing “strong, above-average asset and account growth.” Square CEO Jack Dorsey said in a conference call that the company’s Cash App has had “strong engagement” for investing, while eToro’s CEO said in an email that first-time depositors have increased by 300% this year.

Trading volumes have been off the charts as governments shutter whole commercial sectors to stop the spread of Covid-19. Many equity indexes are down 15% or more this year, even as officials plan to spend and lend more than $4 trillion to help workers and to preserve industries that have gone into hibernation to slow the coronavirus outbreak.

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