Ameritrade has become the latest brokerage company to fire a volley in the industry's ongoing price war.
   The company has announced that it is slashing its fee on option contracts by 50%-from $1.50 to 75 cents per contract, effective at the end of the month.
   The company's fee on option and equity trades will remain at $10.99, company spokeswoman Katrina Becker said today. The pricing change puts Ameritrade in a "very competitive" position in terms of options fees, she adds.
   Focusing on the options market, Ameritrade says it will also roll out direct routing services that give options traders the ability to choose the exchange to which they send their orders. Also planned are enhanced screening features on its online platform, including the ability to search for the most active issues, she says.
   By the end of the second quarter, the company will also offer "trade triggers"-giving traders the ability to set conditions under which trades will automatically be triggered.
   "It's been a popular feature in our equities trading platform and we're excited about rolling it out for options," Becker says.
   The price cut comes at a time when the leaders of the online brokerage industry are waging a competitive pricing war. Charles Schwab and Fidelity are among the firms that have slashed fees in recent months.