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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change by the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. To Extend for an Additional Six Months Its Pilot Program Permitting a Floor Broker To Use an Exchange Authorized and Provided Portable Telephone on the Exchange Floor

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Start Preamble December 12, 2003.

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 24, 2003, the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (“NYSE” or “Exchange”) 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 the Exchange. 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 Exchange proposes to extend its pilot program that amends NYSE Rule 36 (Communication Between Exchange and Members' Offices) to allow a Floor broker's use of an Exchange authorized and provided portable telephone on the Exchange Floor upon approval by the Exchange (“Pilot”) for an additional six months to expire on June 16, 2004. The Pilot is currently in effect on a six-month pilot basis and set to expire on December 16, 2003.[3] The text of the proposed rule change is available at the Office of the Secretary, the Exchange, and at the Commission.

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

In the Original Order,[4] the Commission approved the Pilot to be implemented as a six-month pilot beginning on or about May 1, 2003. On June 5, 2003, the Exchange extended the implementation date for the Pilot to begin no later than June 23, 2003, instead of on or about May 1, 2003, as originally adopted in the Original Order.[5] In a memorandum to all non-specialist members and member organizations, the Exchange stated that the Pilot was implemented on June 16, 2003, and thus would expire on December 16, 2003. The Exchange represents that no regulatory actions, or administrative or technical problems, other than routine telephone maintenance issues, have resulted from the Pilot over the past few months. Therefore, the Exchange seeks to extend the Pilot for an additional six months.

NYSE Rule 36 (Communications Between Exchange and Members' Offices) governs the establishment of telephone or electronic communications between the Exchange's Trading Floor and any other location. Prior to the Pilot, NYSE Rule 36.20 prohibited the use of portable telephone communications between the Trading Floor and any off-Floor location, and the only way that voice communication could be conducted by Floor brokers Start Printed Page 70854between the Trading Floor and an off-Floor location was by means of a telephone located at a broker's booth. These communications often involved a customer calling a broker at the booth for “market look” information. Prior to the Pilot, a broker could not use a portable phone in a trading crowd at the point of sale to speak with a person located off the Floor.

The Exchange is proposing to extend the Pilot for an additional six months, expiring on June 16, 2004. The Pilot would amend NYSE Rule 36 to permit a Floor broker to use an Exchange authorized and issued portable telephone on the Floor. Thus, with the approval of the Exchange, a Floor broker would be permitted to engage in direct voice communication from the point of sale to an off-Floor location, such as a member firm's trading desk or the office of one of the broker's customers. Such communications would permit the broker to accept orders consistent with Exchange rules, provide status and oral execution reports as to orders previously received, as well as “market look” observations as have historically been routinely transmitted from a broker's booth location. Use of a portable telephone on the Exchange Floor other than one authorized and issued by the Exchange would continue to be prohibited.

Furthermore, both incoming and outgoing calls would continue to be allowed, provided the requirements of all other Exchange rules have been met. A broker would not be permitted to represent and execute any order received as a result of such voice communication unless the order was first properly recorded by the member and entered into the Exchange's Front End Systemic Capture (“FESC”) electronic database.[6] In addition, Exchange rules require that any Floor broker receiving orders from the public over portable phones must be properly qualified to do direct access business under Exchange Rules 342 and 345, among others.[7] Furthermore, since the Exchange currently permits portable communications at the point of sale for orders in Investment Company Units (as defined in Section 703.16 of the Listed Company Manual), also known as Exchange-Traded Funds (“ETFs”),[8] and the Pilot would allow for the use of portable phones for orders in ETFs, orders in ETFs would also be subject to the same FESC requirements as orders in any other security listed on the Exchange.

As noted above, under the policy prior to the Pilot, an off-Floor customer could communicate with a broker in a trading crowd only in an indirect way by calling a broker's booth and using the booth clerk as an intermediary. The Exchange believes that the extension of the Pilot would enable the Exchange to provide more direct, efficient access to its trading crowds and customers, increase the speed of transmittal of orders and the execution of trades, and provide an enhanced level of service to customers in an increasingly competitive environment.[9] By enabling customers to speak directly to a Floor broker in a trading crowd on an Exchange authorized and issued portable telephone, the Exchange believes that the proposed rule change would expedite and make more direct the free flow of information, which, prior to the Pilot, had to be transmitted somewhat more circuitously via the broker's booth.

The Exchange also notes that specialists are subject to separate restrictions in NYSE Rule 36 on their ability to engage in voice communications from the specialist post to an off-Floor location.[10] The amendment to NYSE Rule 36 would not apply to specialists, who would continue to be prohibited from speaking from the post to upstairs trading desks or customers.

Pilot Program Results

Since the Pilot's inception, the Exchange represents that there have been approximately 800 portable phone subscribers. In addition, with regard to portable phone usage, for a sample week of July 28, 2003 through August 1, 2003, an average of 19,611 calls per day were originated from portable phones, and an average of 3218 calls per day were received on portable phones. Of the calls originated from portable phones, an average of 18,116 calls per day were internal calls to the booth, and 1495 calls per day were external calls. Thus, over 90% of the calls that originated from portable phones were internal calls to the booth. With regard to received calls, of the 3218 average calls per day received, an average of 1351 calls per day were external calls, and an average of 1867 calls per day were internal calls received from the booth. Thus, approximately 58% of all received calls were internally generated, and 42% were calls from the outside.

Therefore, the Exchange believes that the Pilot appears to be successful in that there is a reasonable degree of usage of portable phones, but as noted above, there have been no regulatory, administrative, or other technical problems associated with their usage. The Exchange believes that the Pilot appears to facilitate communication on the Floor without any corresponding drawbacks. Accordingly, the Exchange believes it is appropriate to extend the Pilot for an additional six months, expiring on June 16, 2004.

2. Statutory Basis

The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with section 6(b) of the Act [11] in general, and furthers the objectives of section 6(b)(5) of the Act [12] in particular, in that 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 a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The Exchange believes that the amendment to NYSE Rule 36 would support the mechanism of free and open markets by providing for increased means by which communications to and from the Floor of the Exchange may take place.

Start Printed Page 70855

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

The Exchange 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 written comments on the proposed rule change.

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

Because the proposed rule change (1) does not significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (2) does not impose any significant burden on competition; and (3) does not become operative for 30 days from the date of filing, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate if consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest, and the Exchange provided the Commission with written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change at least five days prior to the filing date, the proposed rule change has become effective pursuant to section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act,[13] and subparagraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 thereunder.[14] At any time within 60 days of the filing of the 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, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

The Exchange requests that the Commission waive the 30-day delayed operative date of Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii).[15] The Exchange believes that waiver of this period will allow the current Pilot to operate for an additional six months and avoid inconvenience and interruption to the public. The Commission believes that it is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest to waive the 30-day operative delay and make this proposed rule change immediately effective.[16] The Commission believes that the waiver of the 30-day operative delay will allow the Exchange to continue, without interruption, the existing operation of its Pilot for an additional six months, expiring on June 16, 2004.

The Commission believes that the use of Exchange authorized and issued portable telephones would allow the Exchange to have access to all phone records. This ability to track phone calls, along with the data captured in FESC, should aid the Exchange in surveilling for compliance with Exchange rules. In this regard, the Commission notes that proper surveillance is an essential component of any telephone access policy to an Exchange Trading Floor. Surveillance procedures should help to ensure that Floor brokers who are interacting with the public on portable phones are authorized to do so, as NYSE Rule 36 will require,[17] and that orders are being handled in compliance with NYSE rules. The Commission expects that the Exchange actively review these procedures and address any potential concerns that have arisen during the extension of the Pilot. The Commission also requests that the Exchange report any problems, surveillance or enforcement matters associated with the Floor brokers' use of an Exchange authorized and provided portable telephone on the Floor. As stated in the Original Order, the NYSE should also address whether additional surveillance would be needed because of the derivative nature of the ETFs. Furthermore, if the NYSE decides to request permanent approval or another extension of the Pilot, we would expect that the NYSE submit information documenting the usage of the phones, any problems that have occurred, including, among other things, any regulatory actions or concerns, and any advantages or disadvantages that have resulted.[18]

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. Comments may also be submitted electronically at the following e-mail address: rule-comments@sec.gov. All comment letters should refer to File No. SR-NYSE-2003-38. This file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, comments should be sent in hardcopy or by e-mail but not by both methods. 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 NYSE. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-NYSE-2003-38 and should be submitted by January 9, 2004.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[19]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 47671 (April 11, 2003), 68 FR 19048 (April 17, 2003) (SR-NYSE-2002-11) (“Original Order”).

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4.  See Original Order, supra note 3.

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5.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 47992 (June 5, 2003), 68 FR 35047 (June 11, 2003) (SR-NYSE-2003-19).

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6.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43689 (December 7, 2000), 65 FR 79145 (December 18, 2000) (SR-NYSE-98-25). See also Securities Exchange Act Release No. 44943 (October 16, 2001), 66 FR 53820 (October 24, 2001) (SR-NYSE-2001-39) (discussing certain exceptions to FESC, such as orders to offset an error, or a bona fide arbitrage, which may be entered within 60 seconds after a trade is executed).

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7.  For more information regarding Exchange requirements for conducting a public business on the Exchange Floor, see Information Memos 01-41 (November 21, 2001), 01-18 (July 11, 2001) (available on www.nyse.com/​regulation/​regulation.html) and 91-25 (July 8, 1991).

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8.  Previously, under an exception to NYSE Rule 123(e), orders in ETFs could first be executed and then entered into FESC. However, in SR-NYSE-2003-09, the Exchange eliminated the exception to NYSE Rule 123(e) for ETFs, and, as part of its proposal in SR-NYSE-2002-11, allowed the use of portable phones for orders in ETFs. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 47667 (April 11, 2003), 68 FR 19063 (April 17, 2003). NYSE Rule 123(e) provides that all orders in any security traded on the Exchange be entered into FESC before they can be represented in the Exchange's auction market.

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9.  See, e.g., Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43493 (October 30, 2000), 65 FR 67022 (November 8, 2000) (SR-CBOE-00-04) (expanding the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc.'s existing policy and rules governing the use of telephones at equity option trading posts by allowing for the receipt of orders over outside telephone lines, from any source, directly at equity trading posts), and Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43836 (January 11, 2001), 66 FR 6727 (January 22, 2001) (SR-PCX-00-33) (discussing and approving the Pacific Exchange, Inc.'s proposal to remove current prohibitions against Floor Brokers' use of cellular or cordless phones to make calls to persons located off the trading floor).

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10.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 46560 (September 26, 2002), 67 FR 62088 (October 3, 2002) (SR-NYSE-00-31) (discussing restrictions on specialists' communications from the post).

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15.  17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6)(iii).

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16.  For purposes of only accelerating the operative date of this proposal, the Commission has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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17.  See note 7 and accompanying text for other NYSE requirement that Floor brokers be properly qualified before doing a public customer business.

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18.  This information along with any proposal to extend, or permanently approve, the pilot should be submitted at least two to three months prior to the expiration of the six-month pilot.

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[FR Doc. 03-31263 Filed 12-18-03; 8:45 am]

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