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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend NASD IM-2110-2 (Trading Ahead of Customer Limit Order) To Clarify the Scope of the Minimum Price Improvement Obligations

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 27579 June 3, 2009.

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 May 29, 2009, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) (f/k/a National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD”)) 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 FINRA. FINRA has designated the proposed rule change as constituting a “non-controversial” rule change under paragraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 under the Act,[3] which renders the proposal effective upon receipt of this filing by the Commission. 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

FINRA is proposing to amend NASD IM-2110-2 (Trading Ahead of Customer Limit Order) to clarify the scope of the minimum price improvement obligations.

The text of the proposed rule change is available on FINRA's Web site at http://www.finra.org, at the principal office of FINRA and at the Commission's Public Reference Room.

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission, FINRA 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. FINRA 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 1994, the SEC approved Interpretive Material (IM) 2110-2 (Trading Ahead of Customer Limit Order), which generally prohibits a member from trading for its own account in a security at a price that is equal to or better than an unexecuted customer limit order in that security, unless the member immediately, in the event it trades ahead, executes the customer limit order at the price at which it traded for its own account or better.[4]

IM-2110-2 also prescribes a minimum level of “price improvement” necessary for a member to execute an order on a proprietary basis when holding an unexecuted limit order. In other words, IM-2110-2 sets forth price-improvement standards that impose a minimum amount by which a firm must trade, in addition to the price of the customer buy limit order (or less than the price of a customer sell order), to not trigger the protections under the rule. This requirement is intended to prevent a practice of firms trading ahead of their customers' limit orders by trivial amounts and, thereby, circumventing the rule.

The language in IM-2110-2 provides the minimum amount of price improvement necessary for a member to execute an incoming order on a proprietary basis when holding an unexecuted limit order in that same security. Recently, a firm inquired about the scope of the application of the rule due to the term “incoming;” specifically, whether the minimum price improvement standards apply only when a member is trading proprietarily in response to an “incoming” order. FINRA advised the firm that such a narrow application of IM-2110-2 is inconsistent with the fundamental intent of the rule and the purpose of the prescribed minimum price improvement requirements. FINRA has never distinguished the application of the minimum price improvement requirements based on what circumstances prompted the proprietary trade. Therefore, FINRA is amending IM-2110-2 to delete the word “incoming” to make clear that the minimum price improvement requirements apply to any proprietary trading by a member in a security for which the member holds an unexecuted customer limit order, whether or not in response to an incoming order, unless a specific exception applies.

FINRA has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness. The operative date of the proposed rule change will be 30 days after the date of filing.

2. Statutory Basis

FINRA believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of Section 15A(b)(6) of the Act,[5] which requires, among other things, that FINRA rules be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. FINRA believes that the proposed rule change makes clear the application of the minimum price improvement standards under IM-2110-2, which provide an important safeguard for investors by ensuring that firms do not circumvent the protections provided by the Rule by trading ahead of customer limit orders by economically insignificant amounts.

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

FINRA does not believe that the proposed rule change will result in 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

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

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

Because the foregoing proposed rule change does not: (i) Significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) become operative for 30 days from the date on which it was filed, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate, it has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act [6] and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder.[7]

Start Printed Page 27580

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.

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. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic Comments

Paper Comments

  • Send paper comments in triplicate to Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090.

All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FINRA-2009-037. 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, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/​rules/​sro.shtml). 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, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of FINRA. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FINRA-2009-037 and should be submitted on or before July 1, 2009.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.8

Florence E. Harmon,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

4.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 34279 (June 29, 1994), 59 FR 34883 (July 7, 1994) (order approving File No. SR-NASD-93-58).

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7.  17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6). In addition, Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii) requires a self-regulatory organization to provide the Commission with written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change, along with a brief description and text of the proposed rule change, at least five business days prior to the date of filing of the proposed rule change, or such shorter time as designated by the Commission. FINRA has met this requirement.

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[FR Doc. E9-13568 Filed 6-9-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P