Volatile markets and a faltering economy continue to take their toll on the nation’s discount brokers as retail investors remained sidelined.

New York-based TD Waterhouse Group said Friday that it will continue to cut costs and cut employees through attrition, while Ameritrade Holding Corp. of Omaha warned Wall Street Friday that it could post operating losses of as much as 6 cents a share during the second quarter because of the falloff in retail investing.

TD Waterhouse, which is mostly owned by Toronto-Dominion Bank, made its announcement in tandem with its February trading numbers, which showed the number of daily trades decline 10%, to 135,800 from the previous month. Customer assets bled $18 billion during the month, slipping to $136 billion, even while the company attracted 54,700 new accounts.

The company will continue to watch discretionary spending in areas such as travel, a spokeswoman said. The company, which has 8,145 employees worldwide, told Wall Street analysts last month that it will likely miss its 2001 growth targets, which had called for 1.2 million new accounts.

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