Retail investors at Fleet Financial Group's discount brokerage subsidiaries are not stampeding for the exits. In fact, there are more buyers than sellers at both Quick & Reilly and SureTrade, according to Peter Quick, president of Quick & Reilly Inc.

"Customers are taking advantage and buying stocks that they liked on the fundamentals, but were previously unwilling to pay higher prices for," Mr. Quick said.

Both units have reported that 55% to 70% of customers have been buyers since the end of August, when turbulence in the stock market really kicked in.

During a normal market 55% of customers are buyers, but during some recent trading sessions there have been 60% to 70% more people looking to get into the market than liquidate positions, said Mr. Quick. "That's quite dramatic."

Most of those buys represent equity trades, though there has been an increase in the number of customers asking about bonds in recent weeks, Mr. Quick said. Bonds represent about 5% of customer buys, he said.

Mr. Quick said that the investor behavior over the last two weeks underscores a recent survey conducted by Quick & Reilly. The survey, which came out in August just before the Dow Jones industrial average sustained a series of precipitous losses, showed that 41% of customers questioned would view a 20% market correction as a buying opportunity.

Since then, the Dow has been flirting with a 20% correction from its peak value achieved in mid-July.

Trading volume is also up for both Fleet subsidiaries, said a company spokeswoman. July's volume was up 41% over June and was matched by August, which is usually a quiet month, she said.

Mr. Quick said the buying trend indicates that investors are savvier about financial matters than during previous down markets.

There have been 22 down markets-representing declines of 10% or more- since 1925, a fact the company intends to convey to customers in its next newsletter, due out shortly, said Mr. Quick.

"People realize that a lot of investors were burned in 1987," when they panicked during the crash and liquidated their positions, he said. "Had they not done anything with their portfolios, they would be much wealthier now."

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