Charles Schwab's (SCHW) first-quarter earnings fell 20% from a year earlier as revenue slipped and the online brokerage shouldered higher costs for items like compensation and marketing.

Still, Schwab revealed some encouraging developments on investor appetite, reporting clients opened 240,000 new brokerage accounts during the quarter, up 7% from a year earlier and 18% from the fourth quarter.

A slew of encouraging reports on the state of the global economy drew retail investors off the sidelines in the first quarter, putting the major online brokers on track for a strong start to the year.

With interest rates moving higher, Schwab is also getting relief in an area that has long been a concern for the discount brokerage: the need to waive fees for some its money-market funds to ensure client yields don't go negative.

Money-market fee waivers at the brokerage totaled $163 million in the first quarter, just below the $165 million to $170 million it had predicted.

The company reported a profit of $195 million, or 15 cents a share, down from a year-earlier profit of $243 million, or 20 cents a share.

Revenue slipped 1.5% to $1.19 billion. Analysts were looking for a per-share profit of 15 cents on $1.18 billion in revenue, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters.

Total expenses excluding interested rose 7.7% to $876 million.

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