Free stock-trade apps: Power to the people, or new ways for Wall Street to rip you off?

Free stock-trading smartphone apps like Robinhood, Firstrade and Stockpile are attracting a wave of new investors, and are helping to prop up U.S. stock markets despite the headwinds of the coronavirus.Alongside such familiar software-based stocks as Amazon, Facebook and Google, their investments have boosted shares of some obscure and money-losing companies, trading records show.“It’s educational, it’s affordable — you can buy fractions of shares for just a few dollars — and it’s a good time,” said Karen Hartley-Nagle, president of New Castle County Council in Delaware, who says she has recom…

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