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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change, and Amendment No. 1 thereto, by the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, Inc. Relating to a System Change to a Pilot Program to Disengage AUTO-X the Automatic Execution Feature of the Exchange's Automated Options Market (AUTOM)

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Start Preamble September 3, 2003.

Pursuant to section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) [1] , and Rule 19b-4 [2] thereunder, notice is hereby given that on July 14, 2003, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, Inc. (“Phlx” 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 Phlx. On August 26, 2003, the Exchange filed Amendment No. 1 to the proposed rule change.[3] The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the Start Printed Page 53416proposed rule change, as amended, from interested persons.

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change

The Phlx proposes to amend Phlx Rule 1080, Philadelphia Stock Exchange Automated Options Market (“AUTOM”) and Automatic Execution System (“AUTO-X”),[4] to reflect a systems change to its pilot program concerning AUTO-X, whereby AUTO-X is disengaged for a period of 30 seconds after the number of contracts automatically executed in a given option meets the specified disengagement size for the option (the “pilot”). The text of the proposed rule change is set forth below. Brackets indicate deletions.

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Automated Options Market (AUTOM) and Automatic Execution System (AUTO-X)

Rule 1080. (a)-(j) No change.

Commentary:

.01-.05 No change.

.06 Reserved.

.07 The specified disengagement size set forth in Rule 1080(c)(iv)(I) is subject to the approval of the Options Committee [and shall not be for a number of contracts that is fewer than the highest quotation size for any series in the given option]. The specified disengagement size for each option shall be posted on the Exchange's Web site.

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 Phlx 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 Phlx 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 purpose of the proposed rule change is to amend Phlx Rule 1080, Commentary .07, to reflect a systems change to the pilot.[5] The pilot was originally approved on a six-month basis for a limited number of eligible options [6] and extended for an additional six-month period.[7] Subsequently, the number of options eligible for the pilot was expanded to include all Phlx-traded options.[8] In December 2001, the pilot was extended again for an additional six-month period; [9] and extended again in May 2002,[10] November, 2002,[11] and, most recently, in May 2003.[12]

The pilot currently includes the following features:

  • Once an automatic execution occurs via AUTO-X in an option, the system begins a “counting” program, which counts the number of contracts executed automatically for that option up to a certain size,[13] which causes AUTO-X to become disengaged for that option.
  • When the number of contracts executed automatically for that option exhausts the specified disengagement size for the specific option within a 15 second time frame, the system ceases to automatically execute for that option, and drops all AUTO-X eligible orders in that option for manual handling by the specialist for a period of 30 seconds in order to enable the specialist to refresh quotes in that option.
  • Upon the expiration of 30 seconds, automatic executions resume, the “counting” program is set to zero and it begins counting the number of contracts executed automatically within a 15 second time frame again, up to the specified disengagement size.

Again, when the number of contracts automatically executed exhausts the specified disengagement size within a 15 second time frame, the system drops all subsequent AUTO-X eligible orders for manual handling by the specialist for a period of 30 seconds. The system then continues to reset the “counting” program and drop to manual, etc.

In April 2003, the Commission approved a proposal by the Exchange to provide automatic executions for eligible inbound orders (for the account(s) of both customers and broker-dealers) at the Exchange's disseminated price, up to the disseminated size, replacing the previous Exchange rule that allowed a pre-set “AUTO-X guarantee” size, in which eligible orders would be automatically executed up to that AUTO-X guarantee, regardless of the Exchange's disseminated size.[14] Previously, if the Exchange's disseminated size in a particular series was greater than the AUTO-X guarantee, eligible orders delivered via AUTOM for a size greater than the AUTO-X guarantee would be automatically executed at the AUTO-X guaranteed size, and the remainder of the order would be executed manually by the specialist at the disseminated price, up to the remaining disseminated size, in accordance with the Exchange's rules regarding firm quotations.[15]

Because the Exchange currently guarantees automatic executions for eligible orders up to the Exchange's disseminated size, the most recent pilot extension included Commentary .07 to Rule 1080, prohibiting specialists from setting the specified disengagement size to a number of contracts that is fewer than their largest disseminated size.

The Exchange has developed a new system that will automatically execute eligible orders up to the disseminated size in a given series regardless of the specified disengagement size. Thus, if the disseminated size exceeds the specified disengagement size for the series, and an eligible order is delivered for a number of contracts that is greater than the specified disengagement size, the order will be executed up to the disseminated size, followed by an Start Printed Page 53417AUTO-X disengagement period of 30 seconds (if the specialist revises the quote in the series prior to the expiration of 30 seconds, AUTO-X will be automatically re-engaged). Because of the new system, it is no longer necessary to require that the specified disengagement size be greater than the largest disseminated size for any series in a given option. Therefore, the proposal would delete from Commentary .07 to Phlx Rule 1080 the provision that the specified disengagement size shall not be for a number of contracts that is fewer than the highest quotation size for any series in the given option.[16]

The Exchange believes that the new system should enable specialists to continue to fulfill their obligations to make fair and orderly markets during periods of peak market activity, while simultaneously enabling them to meet the requirement to provide automatic executions up to the disseminated size, regardless of whether the specified disengagement size is for a number of contracts that is less than the disseminated size.

2. Statutory Basis

The Exchange believes that its proposal is consistent with section 6(b) of the Act,[17] in general, and furthers the objectives of section 6(b)(5) of the Act,[18] in particular, in that it that it is designed to perfect the mechanisms of a free and open market and the national market system, protect investors and the public interest and promote just and equitable principles of trade by providing automatic executions for eligible orders up to the Exchange's disseminated size, while continuing to enable Exchange specialists to maintain fair and orderly markets during periods of peak market activity.

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

The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any inappropriate burden on competition.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants, or Others

No written comments were either solicited or received.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action

The proposed rule change has become effective pursuant to section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act,[19] and Rule 19b-4(f)(5) thereunder.[20] The proposal effects a change in an existing order-entry or trading system of a self-regulatory organization that (i) does not significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) does not impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) does not have the effect of limiting the access to or availability of the system pursuant to Rule. At any time within 60 days of the filing of such proposed rule change, the Commission may summarily abrogate such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.[21]

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 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 Phlx. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-Phlx-2003-52 and should be submitted by October 1, 2003.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[22]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See letter from Richard S. Rudolph, Director and Counsel, Phlx, to Marc McKayle, Special Counsel, Division of Market Regulation (“Division”), Commission, dated August 25, 2003 (“Amendment No. 1”). In Amendment No. 1, the Exchange amended the proposed rule change to clarify that the specified disengagement size would continue to be subject to the approval of the Options Committee and would be posted on the Exchange's Web site for each option.

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4.  AUTOM is the Exchange's electronic order delivery, routing, execution and reporting system, which provides for the automatic entry and routing of equity option and index option orders to the Exchange trading floor. Orders delivered through AUTOM may be executed manually, or certain orders are eligible for AUTOM's automatic execution feature, AUTO-X. Equity option and index option specialists are required by the Exchange to participate in AUTOM and its features and enhancements. Option orders entered by Exchange members into AUTOM are routed to the appropriate specialist unit on the Exchange trading floor. See Phlx Rule 1080.

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5.  See Amendment No. 1, supra note 3.

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6.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43652 (December 1, 2000), 65 FR 77059 (December 8, 2000) (SR-Phlx-00-96).

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7.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 44362 (May 29, 2001), 66 FR 30037 (June 4, 2001) (SR-Phlx-2001-56).

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8.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 44760 (August 31, 2001), 66 FR 47253 (September 11, 2001) (SR-Phlx-2001-79).

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9.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 45090 (November 21, 2001), 66 FR 59834 (November 30, 2001) (SR-Phlx-2001-100).

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10.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 45862 (May 1, 2002), 67 FR 30990 (May 8, 2002) (SR-Phlx-2002-22).

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11.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 46840 (November 15, 2002), 67 FR 70473 (November 22, 2002) (SR-Phlx-2002-59).

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12.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 47955 (May 30, 2003), 68 FR 34458 (June 9, 2003) (SR-Phlx-2003-29).

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13.  Phlx Rule 1080(c)(iv)(I) provides that when the number of contracts automatically executed within a 15 second period in an option exceeds the specified disengagement size, a 30 second period ensues during which subsequent orders are handled manually. The specified disengagement size is determined by the specialist and subject to the approval of the Exchange's Options Committee. The specified disengagement size for each option is listed on the Exchange's Web site.

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14.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 47646 (April 8, 2003), 68 FR 17976 (April 14, 2003) (SR-Phlx-2003-18).

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15.  See Phlx Rule 1082.

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16.  See Amendment No. 1, supra note 3.

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21.  For the purposes of calculating the 60-day abrogation period, the Commission considers the period to have commenced on August 26, 2003, the date Phlx filed Amendment No. 1.

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[FR Doc. 03-22981 Filed 9-9-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P