Shares of American Express Co. soared Tuesday after the charge card and financial services company announced plans to launch a revamped on-line brokerage.

The company's stock gained 2.27% to $140.6875, after climbing as high as $144.625 before an afternoon selloff in financial stocks.

American Express Brokerage, to be launched this fall, will offer free equity trades with a minimum account balance, as well as mutual funds, buy-side market research, and financial planning tools.

Access to a financial adviser is available for a fee depending on the complexity of the advice sought.

Analysts said the spike in American Express was largely due to expectations, which were satisfied, that the Federal Reserve would not raise interest rates.

But they also said investors viewed the company's plan favorably.

"This is a decision to offer free trading to very desirable potential customers," said David Hochstim, an analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York. The site should supply cross-selling opportunities for relatively little investment, he said.

The service is to replace the company's existing on-line brokerage, Financial Direct.

-- Amy L. Anderson

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