With February trading activity down 21% from a year ago, Charles Schwab & Co. announced yesterday that it would put a freeze on new hires and capital investments and reduce expenses to save $40 million a quarter, "until such time as the business environment improves," David S. Pottruck, president and co-CEO said.

Pottruck called the current business environment, one where the recession is said to be over but the lingering ill-effects of the burst technology bubble are said to be lingering, "an extraordinary set of short-term circumstances."

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