Pursuant to section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”), and Rule 19b-4 thereunder, notice is hereby given that on May 11, 2001, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD”), through its subsidiary, The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. (“Nasdaq” or “Association”), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by Nasdaq. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.
I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change
Nasdaq is proposing to amend NASD Rule 4120, Trading Halts, to clarify the extent of Nasdaq's authority to halt trading in a security in response to extraordinary market activity that Nasdaq believes may be caused by the misuse or malfunction of an electronic system that is operated by, or linked to, Nasdaq. The text of the proposed rule change is below. Proposed new language is in italics; proposed deletions are in brackets.
4120. Trading Halts
(a) No change.
(1)-(5) No change.
(6) Halt trading in a security listed on Nasdaq when:
(i) extraordinary market activity in the security is occurring, such as the execution of a series of transactions for a significant dollar value at prices substantially unrelated to the current market for the security, as measured by the national best bid and offer, and
(ii) Nasdaq believes that such extraordinary market activity may be caused by the misuse or malfunction of an electronic quotation, communication, reporting, or execution system operated by, or linked to, Nasdaq.
(b)(1)-(3) No change.
(4) Should Nasdaq determine that a basis exists under Rule 4120(a)[(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4), or (a)(5)] for initiating a trading halt, the commencement of the trading halt will be effective simultaneously with appropriate notice in the Nasdaq “NEWS” frame.
(5) No change.
(6) A trading halt initiated under Rule 4120(a)(6) shall be terminated as soon as Nasdaq determines either that the system misuse or malfunction that caused the extraordinary market activity has been corrected or that system misuse or malfunction is not the cause of the extraordinary market activity.
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 the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. 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
The purpose of the proposed rule change is clarify Nasdaq's authority to initiate and continue trading halts in circumstances where Nasdaq believes that extraordinary market activity in a security listed on Nasdaq may be caused by the misuse or malfunction of an electronic quotation, communication, reporting, or execution system operated by, or linked to, Nasdaq. NASD Rule 4120 provides Nasdaq with authority to halt trading in securities in a number of circumstances in which Nasdaq deems a trading halt necessary to protect investors and the public interest. The specific bases for initiating a trade halt that are currently listed in Rule 4120 focus primarily on ensuring that investors have access to material news about an issuer. Thus, trading may be halted to allow the issuer to disseminate material news or to allow Nasdaq to request from the issuer information relating to material news or other information that is necessary to protect investors and the public interest. Trading of a security may also be halted in certain circumstances to ensure coordination with a halt of the same or a related security imposed by another market. The decision to halt trading and to resume trading in a particular security are communicated to market participants via the Nasdaq “NEWS” frame of the Nasdaq Workstation.
As a result of the decentralized and electronic nature of the market operated by Nasdaq, the price and volume of transactions in a Nasdaq-listed security may be affected by the misuse or malfunction of electronic systems, including systems that are linked to, but not operated by, Nasdaq. In circumstances where misuse or malfunction results in extraordinary market activity, Nasdaq believes that it may be appropriate to halt trading until the system problem can be rectified. As is true for all trading halts initiated under Rule 4120, a decision to halt trading would require a determination that the action is necessary to protect investors and the public interest. Thus, a misuse or malfunction that has a limited effect on a particular security may not warrant a trading halt. In extraordinary circumstances, however, the system misuse or malfunction may generate significant misinformation about the demand for a particular security in a manner that distorts prices to the detriment of investors.
Under the proposed rule change, Nasdaq would be authorized to initiate a halt if it believes that a particular insurance of extraordinary market activity may be caused by system misuse of malfunction. However, the trading halt would continue only until Nasdaq determines either that the system misuse or malfunction that caused the extraordinary market activity has been corrected or that system misuse or malfunction is not the cause of the extraordinary market activity. Thus, the existence of extraordinary market activity, unrelated to an instance of system misuse or malfunction, would Start Printed Page 28210not provide a basis for continuing a trade halt.
2. Statutory Basis
Nasdaq believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of section 15A(b)(6) of the Act, which requires, among other things, that the Association's rules must be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. Nasdaq believes the proposed rule change is consistent with these requirements because the amendment will provide Nasdaq with clearer authority to respond to and alleviate market disruptions and thereby protect investors and the public interest.
B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on 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.
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
Within 35 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period (i) as the Commission may designate up to 90 days of such date if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which the NASD consents, the Commission will:
A. By order approve such proposed rule change, or
B. Institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved.
IV. Solicitation of Comments
Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Persons making written submissions should file six copies thereof with the Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 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 Nasdaq. All submissions should refer to file number SR-NASD-2001-37 and should be submitted by June 12, 2001.Start Signature
For the Commission by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.
Jonathan G. Katz,
[FR Doc. 01-12825 Filed 5-21-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8010-01-M