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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change by the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. Relating to Market-Wide Trading Halts

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Start Preamble May 2, 2000.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),[1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] notice is hereby given that on April 28, 2000, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD” or “Association”) through its wholly Start Printed Page 26648owned subsidiary, the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. (“Nasdaq”), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission” or “SEC”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by Nasdaq. Nasdaq filed the proposal pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act,[3] and Rule 19b-4(f)(1) thereunder,[4] which renders the proposal effective upon filing with the Commission. On May 1, 2000, Nasdaq amended the filing.[5] The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change, as amended, from interested persons.

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposal

Nasdaq's proposal is an interpretation to NASD Rule 4120 dealing with trading halts due to extraordinary market price movements, otherwise known as “circuit breakers.” The text of the proposed rule change is below. Proposed new language is in italics. Proposed deletions are in brackets.

* * * * *

IM-4120-3. Market Closing Policy

Since 1988, the NASD has consistently asserted that circuit breakers should only be used in response to extraordinary price movement. The NASD's strong preference is that markets remain open wherever possible and, most importantly, remain open at the end of the day.

The NASD recognizes, however, the risks imposed on any single market that remains open while all other U.S. markets have halted trading in response to extraordinary price movements. Therefore, the NASD Board of Governors has determined to halt, upon SEC request, all domestic trading in both the securities listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market and all equity and equity-related securities trading in the over-the-counter market should other major securities markets initiate market-wide trading halts in response to extraordinary market conditions.

This determination reflects the NASD's long-time policy of cooperation with the Commission and other market participants on issues relating to trading halts and represents the Association's continued commitment to the establishment of circuit breaker standards that both keep markets open longer during periods of market stress and that are also more reflective of market activity as a whole.

Towards that end, the NASD believes that additional future changes to circuit breakers are warranted. In particular, the NASD is concerned that the Dow Jones Industrial Average, [which contains no Nasdaq stocks,] despite recent improvements including the addition of a small number of Nasdaq stocks, [is] remains an inappropriately narrow indicator of market price declines. As an alternative, the NASD believes that the Commission should consider replacing the DJIA with the larger and more diverse Standard and Poor's 500 Index as the measure that best reflects overall market activity for circuit breaker purposes. [Moreover, recent attempts to commercially leverage the DJIA may result in that average being less immediately available to the investing public during periods of market stress.] The NASD hopes to revisit [these] this issue[s] with the Commission in the future. [with a view towards the adoption of a more representative [, and more readily-available, market index for circuit breaker purposes.]

This Policy Statement on Market Closings shall remain in effect until April 30, [2000] 2002, unless otherwise modified, or extended prior thereto, by the NASD Board of Governors.

* * * * *

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission , Nasdaq included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for its proposal and discussed any comments it received regarding the proposal. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. Nasdaq has prepared summaries, set forth in Sections A, B and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose

Nasdaq proposes to extend and modify, on a two-year pilot basis, NASD IM-4120-3, which expresses the Association's agreement to halt, upon SEC request, all domestic trading in both the securities listed on Nasdaq and all equity and equity-related securities trading in the over-the-counter market, should any of the other major United States securities markets initiate market-wide trading halts in response to extraordinary market conditions. As outlined in the Interpretive Material (“IM”), the NASD reiterates its commitment to halt trading on Nasdaq and the over-the-counter market when any other major securities market declares a market-wide trading halt in response to extraordinary market conditions. In addition, Nasdaq proposes to modify the current market closing policy statement to reflect the recent addition of two Nasdaq stocks to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (“DJIA”), while still expressing the Association's view that the DJIA is too small and narrow an index to serve as the circuit-breaker price-decline standard.

2. Statutory Basis

Nasdaq believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of Section 15A(b)(6) of the Act,[6] in that the proposed IM is designed to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions in securities. In addition, Nasdaq believes the IM removes impediments to, and perfects the mechanism of, a free and open market and a national market system as well as, in general, protecting investors.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of Burden on Competition

Nasdaq does not believe that the proposed rule change will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act, as amended.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants or Others

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action

The foregoing proposal has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A)(i) of the Act,[7] and Rule 19b-4(f)(1) [8] thereunder, in that it constitutes Start Printed Page 26649a stated policy and interpretation with respect to the meaning of an existing rule.

At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, the Commission may summarily abrogate such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposal is consistent with the Act. Persons making written submissions should file six copies thereof with the Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549-0609. Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for inspection and copying in the Commission's Public Reference Room. Copies of such filing will also be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the NASD. All submissions should refer to file number SR-NASD-00-26 and should be submitted by May 30, 2000.

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[9]

Start Signature

Jonathan G. Katz,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

5.  See April 28, 2000 letter from Thomas P. Moran, Assistant General Counsel, Office of General Counsel, Nasdaq, to Katherine A. England, Assistant Director, Division of Market Regulation, SEC (“Amendment No. 1”). Amendment No. 1 changed the file number from SR-NASD-00-25 to SR-NASD-00-26, and changed Section III of Exhibit 1 to properly reflect that the proposal was filed pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act and Rule 19b-4(f)(1) thereunder. 15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3)(A) and 17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(1).

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7.  15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3)(A)(i).

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[FR Doc. 00-11400 Filed 5-05-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-M