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Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change by the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. Relating to the Establishment of a Nasdaq Official Closing Price and a Trade Report Modifier With Which To Identify That Price to the Public

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Start Preamble December 18, 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 November 1, 2002, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD”), through its subsidiary, the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. (“Nasdaq”), 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 Start Printed Page 78841comments 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 establish a Nasdaq Official Closing Price (“NOCP”), and a trade report modifier with which to identify that price to the public. Nasdaq would program its proprietary systems to append the new modifier—“.M” for Market Close—to one trade report message in each Nasdaq National Market and SmallCap security to identify it as the NOCP in that security. The dissemination of the NOCP would not affect the consolidated last sale price disseminated pursuant to the national market system plan governing trading of Nasdaq securities (“Nasdaq UTP Plan”) or the last sale price of any exchange that is a member of that plan.

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

1. Purpose


Currently, Nasdaq does not have an official closing price. Instead, market participants generally use a last sale price that vendors identify from among the last sale prices that Nasdaq disseminates in its role as the Exclusive Securities Information Process (“ESIP”) for the Nasdaq UTP Plan. As the ESIP, Nasdaq currently disseminates a consolidated last sale price (“Consolidated Close”), which is the price of the last trade reported to the ESIP by any UTP Participant prior to 4:01:30 p.m. In addition, Nasdaq disseminates the last sale price of each individual participant in the Nasdaq UTP Plan (“Individual Market Close”), including Nasdaq, which is the price of the last trade reported by each individual Participant market center prior to 4:01:30 p.m. Nasdaq market participants rely on either the Consolidated Close or Nasdaq's Individual Market Close for many post-close activities, including pricing indices, large institutional orders (commonly called “market-on-close orders”), and mutual fund values. The Consolidated Close is the primary measure of the market for a variety of constituents, including sell-side and buy-side institutions, market indexers, securities issuers, and individual investors.

Despite their widespread acceptance, the Consolidated Close and Nasdaq Individual Market Close are imperfect measures of the value of Nasdaq issues at the close of normal market hours. For instance, the Consolidated Close is somewhat arbitrary in that it is simply the price of the final unmodified trade to be reported to Nasdaq prior to 4:01:30 p.m. by any Nasdaq member or UTP Exchange. Due to wide disparities in the speed at which market participants report trades within Nasdaq's 90-second trade reporting window, trades reported at 4:01:30 p.m. can be significantly away from the market when it closes at 4:00:00 p.m. In addition, although Nasdaq has traditionally monitored the Consolidated Close to guard against the prospect of gaming, as a result of changes to the Nasdaq UTP Plan, Nasdaq no longer performs that function on behalf of other UTP Plan Participants. As a result, Nasdaq is concerned that the Consolidated Close may no longer reliably and accurately reflect each security's value at the close of the market.

Mechanics of the Proposal

Nasdaq proposes to replace the methodology currently used to calculate Nasdaq's Individual Market Close with the NOCP methodology described below. The NOCP would be based on the price of the last unmodified trade reported to Nasdaq's proprietary trade reporting system—Automated Confirmation Transaction System or “ACT”—at or before 4:00:02 p.m. (the “Predicate Trade”). Nasdaq systems would “normalize” the price of the Predicate Trade by comparing it to Nasdaq's best bid and ask prices (i.e., the best prices displayed by all SuperMontage participants) at the time the Predicate Trade was reported, or by comparing it to the Nasdaq best bid and offer at 4:00:00 p.m. for trades reported after that time (“Predicate BBO”).[3] If the price of the Predicate Trade falls at either side of or within the Predicate BBO, that price becomes the NOCP. If the price of the Predicate Trade falls outside the Predicate BBO, Nasdaq would adjust it up to the Predicate BBO bid if it is below the bid price or down to the Predicate BBO ask if it is above the ask price. As described in more detail below, the NOCP methodology would only impact the Individual Market Close for Nasdaq; it would not impact the Consolidated Close or Individual Market Closes of the UTP Exchanges that are disseminated by the ESIP.

The Predicate Trade can be any trade that currently updates the Individual Market Close for Nasdaq, subject to certain limitations. First, Nasdaq would only consider trades submitted with the Nasdaq market center identifier. Specifically, Nasdaq would only consider trade reports submitted to ACT, either by NASD members or by UTP Exchanges that use Nasdaq's proprietary execution systems. Nasdaq would not consider trades reported by NASD members to any venue outside of Nasdaq, including the NASD Alternative Display Facility or other UTP Exchanges, nor would it consider any trades reported by UTP Exchanges not executed through Nasdaq proprietary systems. Thus, if no NASD member reports a trade in a given security to Nasdaq prior to 4:00:02 p.m., Nasdaq would report no NOCP in that security.

Second, Nasdaq would only consider unmodified trades reported at or before 4:00:02 p.m. Nasdaq chose 4:00:02 p.m. as the proper reference point to provide every trade type a reasonable chance to set the close. The current close disadvantages certain trade types that are reported too quickly to set the closing price, such as trades reported via Nasdaq execution systems or by market participants' own automated systems, which often report trades almost instantly. In fact, NASD members report over 90 percent of trades to Nasdaq within two seconds of execution, despite Nasdaq's 90-second trade reporting window. Nasdaq believes that unmodified trades would more accurately reflect the true state of the market at the close of normal market hours. Thus, Nasdaq would not consider trade reports submitted after 4:00:02 p.m. and, with one exception, it would not consider any trades reported with a modifier, such as a .T (after normal market hours), .OR (out of range), or .PRP (prior reference price).[4]

Start Printed Page 78842

Third, Nasdaq would adjust the NOCP only if the Predicate Trade is cancelled or corrected by 4:30:00 p.m., even though Nasdaq would continue to accept trade cancel and correction messages via ACT until 5:15:00 p.m. If, between 4:00:02 p.m. and 4:30:00 p.m., a market participant enters a cancel or correct message regarding the Predicate Trade, Nasdaq would process that message, and recalculate the NOCP. Nasdaq would not consider in the NOCP calculation any cancel or correct message that arrives after 4:30:00 p.m. Nasdaq believes 4:30:00 p.m. is the proper deadline because data vendors, mutual funds, and investors need a timely, definitive closing price, and, even on busy days, Nasdaq receives over 99 percent of cancels and corrections before 4:30 p.m.

Consider the following example:

Time of reportPrice of reportMarket centerConcurrent BBO
3:59:5820.00 .SLDNasdaq19.99-20.01

In this scenario, Nasdaq's Individual Market Close, under the proposed NOCP methodology, would be 20.00, whereas the Nasdaq Individual Market Close under the current methodology would be 20.02 and the Consolidated Close would be 19.95. The Predicate Trade would be the trade reported at 3:59:55 p.m.; the Predicate BBO would be 20.00-20.02; and the Nasdaq NOCP would result from normalizing the 19.98 price up to the Predicate BBO of 20.00. The NASD and CINN prints are not eligible to be the Predicate Trade because UTP Exchanges reported them to the ESIP, not to ACT. Nor is the 3:59:59 p.m. trade eligible since it has an .SLD modifier appended. The 4:00:03 p.m. and 4:01:29 p.m. trades are ineligible because they were reported after 4:00:02 p.m.

Impact on the Consolidated Last Sale Calculation

The NOCP would not be eligible to set the Consolidated Close under the Nasdaq UTP Plan, although the Predicate Trade would be eligible as are all unmodified trade reports. While the NOCP is based on an actual trade, it is not necessarily an actual trade price. Therefore, Nasdaq believes that including it in the Consolidated Close is not consistent with the Nasdaq UTP Plan. It would also give Nasdaq an unfair advantage by manufacturing an additional opportunity for Nasdaq to set the Consolidated Close. To avoid that result, Nasdaq would append the .M modifier and publish it with a trade size of zero to signal to the ESIP and vendors not to include it in the Consolidated Close calculation. The NOCP would, on the other hand, be used to populate the Nasdaq Individual Market Close field that the ESIP currently disseminates. The Predicate Trade would be reported to the ESIP according to Nasdaq's existing trade reporting rules and it would be eligible to set the Consolidated Close, as it would be today.

Nasdaq recognizes that it must educate investors and vendors about its new NOCP and the .M modifier to avoid creating confusion. Currently, the Nasdaq ESIP disseminates a Closing Trade Summary Report that includes the Consolidated Close as well as the Individual Market Closes for Nasdaq and for each UTP Exchange that trades Nasdaq securities. If this proposal is approved, the Individual Market Close field for Nasdaq in the Closing Trade Summary Report would contain the NOCP in place of its last sale price. Neither the Consolidated Close nor any of the Individual Market Closes for any UTP Exchange would be affected by this proposal.

The Nasdaq ESIP is engaged in a development effort to accommodate the new trade modifier and its treatment in the consolidated data streams. Nasdaq has also discussed the addition of the new .M trade modifier with the UTP Operating Committee, and has made it clear that any UTP participant can use the new trade modifier if it chooses.

2. Statutory Basis

Nasdaq believes the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of sections 15A of the Act [5] in general, and with section 15A(b)(6) of the Act [6] in particular, because it is designed, among other things, to protect investors and the public interest. Nasdaq's current proposal is consistent with the NASD's obligations under these provisions of the Act because it would result in the public dissemination of information that more accurately reflects the trading in a particular security at the close. Furthermore, to the extent a security is a component of an index, the index would more accurately reflect the value of the market, or segment of the market, the index is designed to measure. The corresponding result should be trades, or other actions, executed at prices more reflective of the current market when the price of an execution, or other action, is based on the last sale, the high price or low price of a security, or the value of an index.

Nasdaq also believes the proposal is consistent with the NASD's obligations under its transaction reporting plan for Nasdaq National Market System securities approved by the Commission.[7]

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

Nasdaq 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

No written comments were solicited or received with respect to 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 Start Printed Page 78843longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which Nasdaq 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 the NASD. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-NASD-2002-158 and should be submitted by January 16, 2003.

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[8]

Start Signature

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble


3.  Nasdaq Market participants would not have the ability to append the new modifier to trade reports; only Nasdaq trade reporting systems would append this modifier, and only for transactions in Nasdaq National Market and SmallCap Market securities.

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4.  Nasdaq would consider a trade submitted to Nasdaq with a .SLD modifier (reported more than 90 seconds after execution) or a .PRP modifier to be the Predicate Trade if, and only if, it is the only trade of the day by any market participant. In that case, the Predicate BBO would be the BBO at the time the trade was reported.

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7.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 18590 (March 24, 1982), 47 FR 13617 (March 31, 1982).

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[FR Doc. 02-32532 Filed 12-24-02; 8:45 am]