WALL STREET: Options on the Amex

With slumping sales volume still plaguing the U.S. securities industry, the American Stock Exchange last week inaugurated a new type of trading that brokers hoped would lure more small investors—and the commissions they pay —back to the market. Inspired by the success of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, first organized in 1973 as an offshoot of the Chicago Board of Trade, the Amex has brought trading in stock futures or "call options" to Wall Street.

Playing the options market can be tricky, but it does offer several advantages to the small investor with limited assets. Like speculators in wheat,...

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