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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change by the International Securities Exchange, Inc. Relating to the Extension of the Pilot Program for Quotation Spreads

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Start Preamble January 29, 2004.

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 January 22, 2004, the International Securities Exchange, Inc. (“ISE” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in items I and II below, which items have been prepared by the ISE. The proposed rule change has been filed by the ISE under Rule 19b-4(f)(6) of the Act.[3] 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 ISE proposes to extend until March 31, 2004, a pilot program permitting the allowable quotation spread for options on up to 50 equity securities to be $5, regardless of the price of the bid (“Pilot Program”). The ISE proposes no substantive changes to the Pilot Program other than extending its operation through March 31, 2004. Pursuant to Rule 19b-4(f)(6) under the Act, the ISE requests that the Commission waive the 30-day pre-operative requirement contained in Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii).[4]

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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 ISE 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 ISE 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 ISE's rules contain maximum quotation spread requirements that vary from $.25 to $1.00, depending on the price of the option. On March 19, 2003, the Commission approved a proposal to amend Supplementary Material .01 to ISE Rule 803, “Obligations of Market Makers,” to establish a six-month Pilot Program in which the allowable quotation spread for options on up to 50 underlying equity securities would be $5, regardless of the price of the bid.[5] The six-month period expired on September 19, 2003, and the Pilot Program was extended through January 31, 2004.[6] As required by the Pilot Program Approval Order, the ISE has submitted to the Commission a report detailing the ISE's experience with the Pilot Program.

The ISE believes that the Pilot Program has been successful, and the ISE has filed a proposal with the Commission to make the quote spread Pilot Program permanent and to apply it to all ISE listed equity options.[7] The purpose of the current proposal is to extend the Pilot Program in its present form until March 31, 2004, while the Commission reviews the ISE's Pilot Program report and considers the ISE's proposal to make the Pilot Program permanent.

2. Statutory Basis

According to the ISE, the statutory basis for the proposal is the requirement under section 6(b)(5) of the Act [8] that a national securities exchange have rules that are designed 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 ISE does not believe that the proposed rule change imposes 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 ISE has not solicited, and does not intend to solicit, comments on the proposed rule change. The ISE has not received any unsolicited written comments from members or other interested persons.

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

The ISE has filed the proposed rule change pursuant to section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act [9] and subparagraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 thereunder.[10] Because the foregoing 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, the proposed rule change has become effective pursuant to section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder.[11]

A proposed rule change filed under Rule 19b-4(f)(6) normally does not become operative prior to 30 days after the date of filing. However, Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii) permits the Commission to designate a shorter time if such action is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest. The ISE has requested that the Commission waive the 30-day operative delay to prevent a lapse in the operation of the Pilot Program.

The Commission believes that waiving the 30-day operative delay is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest because it will permit the Pilot Program to continue without interruption through March 31, 2004. For this reason, the Commission designates the proposal to be operative upon filing with the Commission.[12]

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, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views and arguments concerning the foregoing, 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. 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-ISE-2004-02. The file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review 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 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 ISE. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-ISE-2004-02 and should be submitted by February 26, 2004.

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For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.13

Jill M. Peterson,

Assistant Secretary.

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Footnotes

4.  17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6)(iii).

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5.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 47532, 68 FR 14728 (March 26, 2003) (order approving File No. SR-ISE-2001-15) (“Pilot Program Approval Order”).

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6.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 48514 (September 22, 2003), 68 FR 55685 (September 26, 2003) (notice of filing and immediate effectiveness of File No. SR-ISE-2003-21).

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7.  See File No. SR-ISE-2003-22.

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11.  The ISE provided the Commission with written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change at least five business days prior to the filing date.

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12.  For purposes only of 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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[FR Doc. 04-2336 Filed 2-4-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P