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The Options Clearing Corporation Reduces Clearing Fees

CHICAGO, February 10, 2004 - The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) announced today that its Board of Directors recently approved a reduction of clearing fees for its membership. The new fee schedule, which becomes effective April 1, will save clearing members up to 9% on clearing fees, depending on the size of trade.

Following is a schedule of the new fees compared to the current fee schedule:

Contract Trade Level
(Number of contracts per trade)
Current Fee
(Per contract)
New Fee
(Per contract)
1-500 $.09 $.0825
501-1000 $.07 $.0675
1001-2000 $.06 $.0575
Greater than 2,000 $110.00 per trade $110 per trade

"The options industry is experiencing dramatic growth in volume which makes this fee reduction especially important for our membership," said Michael Cahill, OCC President and Chief Operating Officer. "The discount is most notable for trades between 1-500 contracts, which account for approximately 75 percent of the trades that are cleared by OCC."

Recently, OCC has announced new records for annual, weekly, daily and monthly total options volume. Year-to-date average daily volume is over 5 million contracts, compared to an average daily volume of 3.6 million contracts in 2003, a record trading year.

In addition to the fee reduction, OCC continues to provide its clearing members with a clearing fee refund once OCC operational expenses are met. For the years ended Dec. 31, 2003, 2002 and 2001, this refund amounted to $33.1 million, $14.1 million and $26.7 million, respectively.

"The new fee schedule effectively accelerates the clearing fee refund, making options an even more attractive, affordable product for the investment community," explained Cahill.

About OCC

OCC, founded in 1973, is the largest clearing organization in the world for options and was the first clearing house to receive a 'AAA' credit rating from Standard & Poor's Corporation. In 2003, OCC's average daily options volume was 3.6 million contracts and average daily premium settlements were $1.1 billion. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, OCC provides clearing and settlement services for the American Stock Exchange, Boston Options Exchange, Chicago Board Options Exchange, International Securities Exchange, One Chicago, NQLX, Pacific Exchange, Philadelphia Board of Trade and Philadelphia Stock Exchange. More information about OCC is available through its Web site at www.optionsclearing.com.