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Notice

Self Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc.; Order Granting Approval to Proposed Rule Change and Notice of Filing and Order Granting Accelerated Approval to Amendment No. 1 to the Proposed Rule Change Increasing Position and Exercise Limits for Options on the DIAMONDS Trust

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble February 11, 2003.

I. Introduction

On May 20, 2002, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. (“CBOE”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”), pursuant to section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) [1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] a proposed rule change to increase position and exercise limits for options on the DIAMONDS Trust (“DIA”). The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on November 6, 2002.[3] The Commission received no comments on the proposal. On February 4, 2003, the CBOE filed Amendment No. 1 to the proposed rule change.[4] This order approves the proposed rule change, and notices and grants accelerated approval to Amendment No. 1 to the proposed rule change.

II. Description of the Proposal

The CBOE proposes to increase position and exercise limits for options on the DIA from 75,000 to 300,000 contracts on the same side of the market. Consistent with the reporting requirement for QQQ options, the Exchange will require that each member or member organization that maintains a position on the same side of the market in excess of 10,000 contracts in the DIA option class, for its own account or for the account of a customer report certain information. This data would include, but would not be limited to, the option position, whether Start Printed Page 8317such position is hedged and if so, a description of the hedge and if applicable, the collateral used to carry the position. Exchange market-makers (including DPMs) would continue to be exempt from this reporting requirement as market-maker information can be accessed through the Exchange's market surveillance systems. In addition, the general reporting requirement for customer accounts that maintain a position in excess of 200 contracts will remain at this level for DIA options.[5]

III. Discussion

The Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange [6] and, in particular, the requirements of section 6 of the Act [7] and the rules and regulations thereunder. The Commission finds specifically that the proposed rule change is consistent with section 6(b)(5) of the Act [8] because it is designed to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to remove impediments to, and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest.

Position and exercise limits serve as a regulatory tool designed to address potential manipulative schemes and adverse market impact surrounding the use of options. In the past, the Commission has stated that:

Since the inception of standardized options trading, the options exchanges have had rules imposing limits on the aggregate number of options contracts that a member or customer could hold or exercise. These rules are intended to prevent the establishment of options positions that can be used or might create incentives to manipulate or disrupt the underlying market so as to benefit the options position. In particular, position and exercise limits are designed to minimize the potential for mini-manipulations and for corners or squeezes of the underlying market. In addition such limits serve to reduce the possibility for disruption of the options market itself, especially in illiquid options classes.[9]

In general, the Commission has taken a gradual, evolutionary approach toward expansion of position and exercise limits. The Commission has been careful to balance two competing concerns when considering the appropriate level at which to set position and exercise limits. The Commission has recognized that the limits must be sufficient to prevent investors from disrupting the market in the component securities comprising an index. These same concerns exist for the underlying portfolio securities held by exchange-traded fund shares, which track indexes such as the DIA. At the same time, the Commission has determined that limits must not be established at levels that are so low as to discourage participation in the options market by institutions and other investors with substantial hedging needs or to prevent specialists and market makers from adequately meeting their obligations to maintain a fair and orderly market.[10]

The Commission has carefully considered the CBOE's proposal to increase position and exercise limits for DIA options. At the outset, the Commission notes that it still believes the fundamental purpose of position and exercise limits are being served by their existence. However, given the surveillance capabilities of the Exchange and the depth and liquidity in both the DIA options and the underlying cash market in DIAs, the Commission believes it is permissible to significantly raise position and exercise limits for DIA options without risk of disruption to the options or underlying cash markets. Specifically, the Commission believes that it is appropriate to increase position and exercise limits from 75,000 contracts to 300,000 contracts for DIA options for several reasons.

First, the Commission believes that the structure of the DIA options and the considerable liquidity of both the underlying cash and options market for DIA options lessen the opportunity for manipulation of this product and disruption in the underlying market that a lower position limit may protect against. In this regard, the CBOE notes that DIA, based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is among the most actively traded exchange-traded funds, averaging 4.5 million shares per day during the first six months of 2002. Moreover, the components comprising the fund are themselves among the most actively traded and widely held securities listed in the U.S. These factors provide support for higher limits for the DIA options and differentiate them from other equity options (including options on other exchange-traded fund shares).

Second, the Commission notes that current margin and risk-based haircut methodologies serve to limit the size of positions maintained by any one account by increasing the margin and/or capital that a member must maintain for a large position held by itself or by its customer. Further, the CBOE, under CBOE Rules 4.13 and 12.10, may impose additional margin on options positions if it determines that this is warranted. The Commission believes that these financial requirements should help to address concerns that a member or its customer may try to maintain an inordinately large unhedged position in DIA options and will help to reduce risks if such a position is established.

Finally, the Commission believes that the reporting requirements imposed by the Exchange under CBOE Rule 4.13 will help protect against potential manipulation. The Exchange will require that each member or member organization that maintains a position on the same side of the market in excess of 10,000 contracts in the DIA option class, for its own account or for the account of a customer report certain information. This data would include, but would not be limited to, the option position, whether such position is hedged and if so, a description of the hedge and if applicable, the collateral used to carry the position. Exchange market-makers (including DPMs) would continue to be exempt from this reporting requirement as market-maker information can be accessed through the Exchange's market surveillance systems. In addition, the general reporting requirement for customer accounts that maintain a position in excess of 200 contracts will remain at this level for DIA options.[11] This information should help the CBOE to monitor accounts and determine whether it is necessary to impose additional margin for under-hedged positions, as provided under its rules.

In summary, the financial and reporting requirements noted above should allow the Exchange to detect and deter trading abuses arising from the increased position and exercise limits, and will also allow the Exchange to monitor large positions in order to identify instances of potential risk and to assess additional margin and/or capital charges, if deemed necessary. These requirements, coupled with the special trading characteristics of the DIA options and the underlying DIA noted above, warrant approval of the Exchange's proposal.[12]

Start Printed Page 8318

The Commission finds good cause for approving Amendment No. 1 to the proposed rule change prior to the thirtieth day after the date of publication of notice thereof in the Federal Register. Amendment No. 1 corrects an error in the proposed rule language and in the Rule 19b-4 rule filing to affirm that the reporting requirement level for DIA options will be set at 10,000 contracts. This is the current level under CBOE rules and remains unchanged. The Commission, therefore, believes that there is good cause to grant accelerated approval of Amendment No. 1, consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act [13] and section 19(b)[14] of the Act.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning Amendment No. 1, including whether it 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 NASD. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-CBOE-2002-26 and should be submitted by March 13, 2003.

V. Conclusion

It is therefore ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act [15] , that the proposed rule change (SR-CBOE-2002-26), as amended, be and hereby is approved.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[16]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 46743 (October 30, 2002), 67 FR 67673 (November 6, 2002).

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4.  See Letter from Christopher R. Hill, Attorney II, Legal Division, CBOE, to Nancy Sanow, Assistant Director, Division of Market Regulation (“Division”), Commission, dated February 3, 2003 (“Amendment No. 1”). In Amendment No. 1, the CBOE corrected erroneous text in CBOE Rule 4.13(b) to maintain the reporting requirement level for DIA options specified in CBOE Rule 4.13 at 10,000 contracts. Amendment No. 1 also corrected similar references to the reporting requirement level that were contained in the SEC Rule 19b-4 filing.

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5.  See CBOE Rule 4.13(a).

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6.  In approving this proposed rule change, the Commission notes that it has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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9.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 39489 (December 24, 1997), 63 FR 276 (January 5, 1998).

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11.  See CBOE Rule 4.13(a).

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12.  Of course, the Commission expects that CBOE will take prompt action, including timely communication with the Commission and other marketplace self-regulatory organizations responsible for oversight of trading in the underlying DIA, should any unanticipated adverse market effects develop due to the increased limits.

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[FR Doc. 03-4046 Filed 2-19-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P