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Reuters.com Goes Direct With Consumers

News and financial market data company Reuters , coping with a drop in demand from financial services firms, is shifting to offer market products to savvy individual investors.

The company, which provides financial news and wide menu of market data to the financial world, is now pitching portfolio-watchlists, e-mail alerts and customized news feeds through its re-launched site, Reuters.com. The service is designed for serious investors, Reuters said, such as business professionals and high net worth individuals.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Reuters has sent a compliment to the business model deployed by the online unit of The New York Times and Yahoo!Finance, for that matter. Like NYTimes.com, articles on Reuters.com are still free but users are asked to register for new services such as portfolio alerts and newsletters. Reuters still has a distribution agreement with Yahoo! Finance, which uses Reuters articles as part of its own portfolio alert services for registered users.

Reuters.com is also working on building a better consumer database from its new "Newsmail" e-mail products. Users can register for e-mail newsletters about topics such as pre-market opening report, daily top news, business, technology and health reports, and a weekly funds review. The newsletters are free and advertising-supported.

Reuters said no paid products are part of the mix yet, but it expects subscription packages to start to roll out within a year.

Lavinia Calvert, executive vice president and global publisher for Reuters, said the investor-focused revamp of Reuters.com is part of the company's commitment to expand beyond its core product line, which is aimed at financial market professionals.

The focus on individual investors also places Reuters in competition with specialty online financial news sites such as TheStreet.com , which serves a similar audience of high net-worth investors. TheStreet.com started out as a free, ad-supported financial news site but has since moved to different subscription packages and paid newsletters.

Like most information news services focused on the financial services vertical, Reuters is coping with a downturn in its revenues as a result of big losses among banks and financial services firms. The impact of financial accounting scandals, a recent recession, and losses from troubled sectors such as telecommunications, have rippled into the news organizations that service the industry such as Reuters, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. All three news organizations recently announced layoffs as a result of a drop in sales.

Reuters said the re-launch of its Reuters.com site is starting in the U.S. and would eventually expand to include other key markets in Asia and Europe within 12 months.