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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change by the American Stock Exchange LLC Requesting Permanent Approval of Pilot Program Eliminating Position and Exercise Limits for XMI and XII Index Options and Related Flex Options

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Start Preamble May 23, 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 April 12, 2002, the American Stock Exchange LLC (“Amex” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by the Exchange. 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 Proposed Rule Change

The Amex seeks permanent approval of the pilot program that provides for the elimination of position and exercise limits for the Major Market (“XMI”) and Institutional (“XII”) broad-based index options, as well as FLEX Options on these indexes. On January 3, 2002, the Commission granted a six-month extension of the pilot program until July 3, 2002.[3]

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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 Exchange 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. The Exchange 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

On February 1, 1999, the Commission approved the elimination of position and exercise limits for the XMI and XII index options, as well as FLEX options on these indexes on a two-year basis (the “Pilot Program”).[4] The Pilot Program originally ended on February 1, 2001, with extensions for an additional six-month period approved on July 3, 2001 [5] and January 3, 2002,[6] respectively. The purpose of this proposed rule change is to request approval of the Pilot Program on a permanent basis.

The Original Approval Order required the Exchange to submit a report to the Commission regarding the status of the Pilot Program so that the Commission could use this information to evaluate any effects of the program.[7] The Exchange submitted the required report to the Commission on May 22, 2001 in connection with the first six-month extension of the Pilot Program (Amex File No. 2001-31). The report indicated that from February 1, 1999 through March 30, 2001, no customer and/or firm accounts reached a level of 100,000 or more options contracts in XMI or XII options. The Amex during this review period did not discover any instances where an account maintained an unusually large unhedged position. In addition, during the period from April 2, 2001 through February 28, 2002, the Amex did not experience accounts establishing positions in excess of the standard limit applicable to each index at the time the Pilot Program was approved.[8] Accordingly, the Amex seeks Commission approval to eliminate position and exercise limits for XMI and XII options, as well as related FLEX options, on a permanent basis based on the Amex's experience administering the Pilot Program.

2. Statutory Basis

The Exchange represents that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b) of the Act [9] in general, and furthers the objectives of Section 6(b)(5) [10] in particular, in that it is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in facilitating transactions in securities, to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest.

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

The Amex does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose 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

The Exchange has neither solicited nor received comments on the proposed rule change.

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 Exchange 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, as amended, 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 at the Commission's Public Reference Room. Copies of such filing will also be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. All submissions should refer to the File No. SR-Amex-2002-31 and should be submitted by June 20, 2002.

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For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[11]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 45234 (January 3, 2002), 67 FR 1377 (January 10, 2002).

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4.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 41011 (February 1, 1999), 64 FR 6405 (February 9, 1999) (“Original Approval Order”).

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5.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 44507 (July 3, 2001), 66 FR 36348 (July 11, 2001).

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6.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 45234 (January 3, 2002), 67 FR 1377 (January 10, 2002).

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7.  In the Original Approval Order, the Commission stated:

Furthermore, three months prior to the end of the pilot program, Amex will provide the Commission with a report detailing the size and different types of strategies employed with respect to positions established in those classes not subject to position limits. In addition, the report will note whether any problems resulted due to the no limit approach and any other information that may be useful in evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot program. The Commission expects that Amex will take prompt action, including timely communications with the Commission and other marketplace self-regulatory organizations responsible for oversight of trading in component stocks, should any unanticipated adverse market effects develop.

Securities Exchange Act Release No. 41011 (February 1, 1999), 64 FR 6405 (February 9, 1999).

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8.  Telephone call between Jeffrey P. Burns, Assistant General Counsel, Amex, and Susie Cho, Special Counsel, Division of Market Regulation, Commission, May 21, 2002. At the time the Commission approved the Pilot Program, the position limits for XMI and XII were 34,000 and 200,000, respectively.

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[FR Doc. 02-13480 Filed 5-29-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P