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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Relating to Rule G-14, on Reports of Sales or Purchases

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Start Preamble March 29, 2002.

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 March 27, 2002 the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“Board” or “MSRB”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission” or “SEC”) a proposed rule change (File No. SR-MSRB-2002-04) as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by the MSRB. 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

The MSRB has filed with the Commission a proposed rule change with regard to Rule G-14, on reports of sales or purchases, to increase transparency in the municipal securities market. The proposed rule change would not change the wording of Rule G-14.

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

In its filing with the Commission, the Board 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 texts of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. The Board 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

The Board has a long-standing policy to increase price transparency in the municipal securities market, with the ultimate goal of disseminating comprehensive and contemporaneous pricing data. One product of the Board's Transaction Reporting Program is its Daily Transaction Report (the “Report”), which has been provided to subscribers each day since January 2000. The report is made available each morning by 7 am and includes details of transactions in municipal securities which were “frequently traded” the previous business day. Since the beginning of the Transaction Reporting Program in 1995, “frequently traded” securities have been defined as those that were traded four or more times on a given business day.

In designing the transparency reports that appear on the day after trade date (T+1), the Board has adopted the threshold of four trades a day because of the concern that an isolated transaction may not necessarily provide a reliable indicator of “market price” and might be misleading to an observer not familiar with the market. At the same time, the Board has made a commitment to review the use of these reports as experience is obtained and eventually to move to transparency reporting on a more contemporaneous and comprehensive basis.[3]

Since 1995, the Board has made ongoing efforts to increase price transparency in the municipal securities market in measured steps, culminating in comprehensive, real-time price transparency. The first price transparency report, begun in 1995, was a T+1 report that summarized inter-dealer trades in frequently traded municipal securities. In 1998, the Board added customer trades to the T+1 summary reports, and in January 2000 began publishing individual transaction data on frequently traded securities in addition to summarizing their high, low and average prices. The Board has also introduced “comprehensive” transaction reports for this market, which list all municipal securities transactions (regardless of frequency of trading), but which are available no less than two weeks after trade date.[4]

At this time, the Board believes that the next appropriate step in this process is to change the threshold for determining that a municipal security is “frequently traded” for purposes of the T+1 transparency report. The proposed rule change would lower the threshold from four to three trades per day.

Impact of Proposed Report on Transparency

The proposed threshold change would increase substantially the proportion of municipal securities market activity that is reported on the day after trading. The present report, with a threshold of four or more trades per day, includes an average of 11,600 trades in 1,100 different issues, with a total par value of about 3.9 billion Start Printed Page 16140dollars. Under the proposed threshold, the report is expected to include an average of 14,400 trades in 2,600 issues, with a total par value of about 5.2 billion dollars. This represents a 24 percent increase in the number of trades reported, a more-than-twofold increase in the number of issues reported, and a 33 percent increase in par value reported.[5]

Description of Service

The enhanced Daily Transaction Report with the three-trade threshold will replace the current report and will be available each day to subscribers via the Internet. Subscribers to the current Service receive the report free of charge, and their subscriptions will continue should the proposed Service be implemented. New subscriptions will be available free to parties who sign a subscription agreement. In addition, recent reports will continue to be available for examination, also free of charge, at the Board's Public Access Facility in Alexandria, VA.

Implementation Schedule

The enhanced report will be available to subscribers as soon as practical after SEC approval of the proposed rule change. It is estimated that the period between approval and implementation will not exceed two weeks.

2. Basis

The MSRB has adopted the proposed rule change pursuant to Section 15B(b)(2)(I) of the Act, which authorizes the MSRB to adopt rules that provide for the operation and administration of the Board.

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

The MSRB does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition in that it applies equally to all dealers in municipal securities.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received from Members, Participants, or Others Written comments on the proposed rule change 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 self-regulatory organization 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 submissions, 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 the filing will also be available for inspection and copying at the MSRB's principal offices. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-MSRB-2002-04 and should be submitted by April 25, 2002.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[6]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See, e.g., “Board to Proceed with Pilot Program to Disseminate Inter-Dealer Transaction Information,” MSRB Reports, Vol. 14, No. 1 (January 1994). In its approval order for the Inter-Dealer Daily Report, the Commission noted that the Board, in proceeding to subsequent levels of transparency, “should continue to work toward publicly disseminating the maximum level of useful information to the public while ensuring that the information and manner in which it is presented is not misleading.” See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 34955 (November 9, 1994), 59 FR 59810 (November 18, 1994).

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4.  The first comprehensive report was introduced in October 2000 and listed all trades after a one-month delay. The latest comprehensive report began operation in November 2001 and has a two-week delay. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 44894 (October 2, 2001), 66 FR 51485 (October 9, 2001).

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5.  These data are based upon market activity from April 1, 2001 through July 31, 2001.

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[FR Doc. 02-8137 Filed 4-3-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P