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Self-Regulatory Organizations; the NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Extend Fee Pilot Program for NASDAQ Last Sale

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Start Preamble April 5, 2011.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Act”) [1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] notice is hereby given that on March 31, 2011, The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (“NASDAQ” or the “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “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

NASDAQ is proposing to extend for three months the fee pilot pursuant to which NASDAQ distributes the NASDAQ Last Sale (“NLS”) market data products. NLS allows data distributors to have access to real-time market data for a capped fee, enabling those distributors to provide free access to the data to millions of individual investors via the internet and television. Specifically, NASDAQ offers the “NASDAQ Last Sale for NASDAQ” and “NASDAQ Last Sale for NYSE/Amex” data feeds containing last sale activity in U.S. equities within the NASDAQ Market Center and reported to the jointly-operated FINRA/NASDAQ Trade Reporting Facility (“FINRA/NASDAQ TRF”), which is jointly operated by NASDAQ and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”). The purpose of this proposal is to extend the existing pilot program for three months, from April 1, 2011 through June 30, 2011.

This pilot program supports the aspiration of Regulation NMS to increase the availability of proprietary data by allowing market forces to determine the amount of proprietary market data information that is made available to the public and at what price. During the pilot period, the program has vastly increased the availability of NASDAQ proprietary market data to individual investors. Based upon data from NLS distributors, NASDAQ believes that since its launch in July 2008, the NLS data has been viewed by over 50,000,000 investors on Web sites operated by Google, Interactive Data, and Dow Jones, among others.

The text of the proposed rule change is below. Proposed new language is italicized; proposed deletions are in brackets.

* * * * *

7039. NASDAQ Last Sale Data Feeds

(a) For a three month pilot period commencing on [January] April 1, 2011, NASDAQ shall offer two proprietary data feeds containing real-time last sale information for trades executed on NASDAQ or reported to the NASDAQ/FINRA Trade Reporting Facility.

(1)-(2) No change.

(b)-(c) No change.

* * * * *

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 self-regulatory organization 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 those 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 parts of such statements.

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

1. Purpose

Prior to the launch of NLS, public investors that wished to view market data to monitor their portfolios generally had two choices: (1) Pay for real-time market data or (2) use free data that is 15 to 20 minutes delayed. To increase consumer choice, NASDAQ proposed a pilot to offer access to real-time market data to data distributors for a capped fee, enabling those distributors to disseminate the data at no cost to millions of internet users and television viewers. NASDAQ now proposes a three-month extension of that pilot program, subject to the same fee structure as is applicable today.[3]

NLS consists of two separate “Level 1” products containing last sale activity within the NASDAQ market and reported to the jointly-operated FINRA/NASDAQ TRF. First, the “NASDAQ Last Sale for NASDAQ” data product is a real-time data feed that provides real-time last sale information including execution price, volume, and time for executions occurring within the NASDAQ system as well as those reported to the FINRA/NASDAQ TRF. Second, the “NASDAQ Last Sale for NYSE/Amex” data product provides real-time last sale information including execution price, volume, and time for NYSE- and NYSE Amex-securities executions occurring within the NASDAQ system as well as those reported to the FINRA/NASDAQ TRF.

NASDAQ established two different pricing models, one for clients that are able to maintain username/password entitlement systems and/or quote counting mechanisms to account for usage, and a second for those that are not. Firms with the ability to maintain username/password entitlement systems and/or quote counting mechanisms are eligible for a specified fee schedule for the NASDAQ Last Sale for NASDAQ Product and a separate fee schedule for the NASDAQ Last Sale for NYSE/Amex Product. Firms that are unable to maintain username/password entitlement systems and/or quote counting mechanisms also have multiple options for purchasing the NASDAQ Last Sale data. These firms choose between a “Unique Visitor” model for internet delivery or a “Household” model for television delivery. Unique Visitor and Household populations must be reported monthly and must be validated by a third-party vendor or ratings agency approved by NASDAQ at NASDAQ's sole discretion. In addition, to reflect the growing confluence between these media outlets, NASDAQ offered a reduction in fees when a single distributor distributes Start Printed Page 20055NASDAQ Last Sale Data Products via multiple distribution mechanisms.

Second, NASDAQ established a cap on the monthly fee, currently set at $50,000 per month for all NASDAQ Last Sale products. The fee cap enables NASDAQ to compete effectively against other exchanges that also offer last sale data for purchase or at no charge.

As with the distribution of other NASDAQ proprietary products, all distributors of the NASDAQ Last Sale for NASDAQ and/or NASDAQ Last Sale for NYSE/Amex products pay a single $1,500/month NASDAQ Last Sale Distributor Fee in addition to any applicable usage fees. The $1,500 monthly fee applies to all distributors and does not vary based on whether the distributor distributes the data internally or externally or distributes the data via both the internet and television.

2. Statutory Basis

NASDAQ believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of Section 6 of the Act,[4] in general, and with Section 6(b)(4) of the Act,[5] in particular, in that it provides an equitable allocation of reasonable fees among users and recipients of the data. In adopting Regulation NMS, the Commission granted self-regulatory organizations and broker-dealers increased authority and flexibility to offer new and unique market data to the public. It was believed that this authority would expand the amount of data available to consumers, and also spur innovation and competition for the provision of market data.

NASDAQ believes that its NASDAQ Last Sale market data products are precisely the sort of market data product that the Commission envisioned when it adopted Regulation NMS. The Commission concluded that Regulation NMS—by lessening regulation of the market in proprietary data—would itself further the Act's goals of facilitating efficiency and competition:

[E]fficiency is promoted when broker-dealers who do not need the data beyond the prices, sizes, market center identifications of the NBBO and consolidated last sale information are not required to receive (and pay for) such data. The Commission also believes that efficiency is promoted when broker-dealers may choose to receive (and pay for) additional market data based on their own internal analysis of the need for such data.[6]

By removing “unnecessary regulatory restrictions” on the ability of exchanges to sell their own data, Regulation NMS advanced the goals of the Act and the principles reflected in its legislative history. If the free market should determine whether proprietary data is sold to broker-dealers at all, it follows that the price at which such data is sold should be set by the market as well.

The recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in NetCoaliton v. SEC [sic], No. 09-1042 (D.C. Cir. 2010) upheld the Commission's reliance upon competitive markets to set reasonable and equitably allocated fees for market data. “In fact, the legislative history indicates that the Congress intended that the market system `evolve through the interplay of competitive forces as unnecessary regulatory restrictions are removed' and that the SEC wield its regulatory power `in those situations where competition may not be sufficient,' such as in the creation of a `consolidated transactional reporting system.' NetCoaltion [sic], at 15 (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 94-229, at 92 (1975), as reprinted in 1975 U.S.C.C.A.N. 321, 323).

The court agreed with the Commission's conclusion that “Congress intended that `competitive forces should dictate the services and practices that constitute the U.S. national market system for trading equity securities.' ” [7]

The Court in NetCoalition, while upholding the Commission's conclusion that competitive forces may be relied upon to establish the fairness of prices, nevertheless concluded that the record in that case did not adequately support the Commission's conclusions as to the competitive nature of the market for NYSEArca's data product at issue in that case. As explained below in NASDAQ's Statement on Burden on Competition, however, NASDAQ believes that there is substantial evidence of competition in the marketplace for data that was not in the record in the NetCoalition case, and that the Commission is entitled to rely upon such evidence in concluding that the fees established in this filing are the product of competition, and therefore in accordance with the relevant statutory standards.[8]

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

NASDAQ 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, as amended. NASDAQ's ability to price its Last Sale Data Products is constrained by (1) Competition between exchanges and other trading platforms that compete with each other in a variety of dimensions; (2) the existence of inexpensive real-time consolidated data and free delayed consolidated data; and (3) the inherent contestability of the market for proprietary last sale data.

The market for proprietary last sale data products is currently competitive and inherently contestable because there is fierce competition for the inputs necessary to the creation of proprietary data and strict pricing discipline for the proprietary products themselves. Numerous exchanges compete with each other for listings, trades, and market data itself, providing virtually limitless opportunities for entrepreneurs who wish to produce and distribute their own market data. This proprietary data is produced by each individual exchange, as well as other entities, in a vigorously competitive market.

Transaction execution and proprietary data products are complementary in that market data is both an input and a byproduct of the execution service. In fact, market data and trade execution are a paradigmatic example of joint products with joint costs. The decision whether and on which platform to post an order will depend on the attributes of the platform where the order can be posted, including the execution fees, data quality and price and distribution of its data products. Without trade executions, exchange data products cannot exist. Moreover, data products are valuable to many end users only insofar as they provide information that end users expect will assist them or their customers in making trading decisions.

The costs of producing market data include not only the costs of the data distribution infrastructure, but also the costs of designing, maintaining, and operating the exchange's transaction execution platform and the cost of regulating the exchange to ensure its fair operation and maintain investor confidence. The total return that a Start Printed Page 20056trading platform earns reflects the revenues it receives from both products and the joint costs it incurs. Moreover, an exchange's broker-dealer customers view the costs of transaction executions and of data as a unified cost of doing business with the exchange. A broker-dealer will direct orders to a particular exchange only if the expected revenues from executing trades on the exchange exceed net transaction execution costs and the cost of data that the broker-dealer chooses to buy to support its trading decisions (or those of its customers). The choice of data products is, in turn, a product of the value of the products in making profitable trading decisions. If the cost of the product exceeds its expected value, the broker-dealer will choose not to buy it. Moreover, as a broker-dealer chooses to direct fewer orders to a particular exchange, the value of the product to that broker-dealer decreases, for two reasons. First, the product will contain less information, because executions of the broker-dealer's orders will not be reflected in it. Second, and perhaps more important, the product will be less valuable to that broker-dealer because it does not provide information about the venue to which it is directing its orders. Data from the competing venue to which the broker-dealer is directing orders will become correspondingly more valuable.

Similarly, in the case of products such as NLS that are distributed through market data vendors, the vendors provide price discipline for proprietary data products because they control the primary means of access to end users. Vendors impose price restraints based upon their business models. For example, vendors such as Bloomberg and Reuters that assess a surcharge on data they sell may refuse to offer proprietary products that end users will not purchase in sufficient numbers. Internet portals, such as Google, impose a discipline by providing only data that will enable them to attract “eyeballs” that contribute to their advertising revenue. Retail broker-dealers, such as Schwab and Fidelity, offer their customers proprietary data only if it promotes trading and generates sufficient commission revenue. Although the business models may differ, these vendors' pricing discipline is the same: They can simply refuse to purchase any proprietary data product that fails to provide sufficient value. NASDAQ and other producers of proprietary data products must understand and respond to these varying business models and pricing disciplines in order to market proprietary data products successfully. Moreover, NASDAQ believes that products such as NLS can enhance order flow to NASDAQ by providing more widespread distribution of information about transactions in real time, thereby encouraging wider participation in the market by investors with access to the internet or television. Conversely, the value of such products to distributors and investors decreases if order flow falls, because the products contain less content.

Analyzing the cost of market data distribution in isolation from the cost of all of the inputs supporting the creation of market data will inevitably underestimate the cost of the data. Thus, because it is impossible to create data without a fast, technologically robust, and well-regulated execution system, system costs and regulatory costs affect the price of market data. It would be equally misleading, however, to attribute all of the exchange's costs to the market data portion of an exchange's joint product. Rather, all of the exchange's costs are incurred for the unified purposes of attracting order flow, executing and/or routing orders, and generating and selling data about market activity. The total return that an exchange earns reflects the revenues it receives from the joint products and the total costs of the joint products.

Competition among trading platforms can be expected to constrain the aggregate return each platform earns from the sale of its joint products, but different platforms may choose from a range of possible, and equally reasonable, pricing strategies as the means of recovering total costs. For example, some platforms may choose to pay rebates to attract orders, charge relatively low prices for market information (or provide information free of charge) and charge relatively high prices for accessing posted liquidity. Other platforms may choose a strategy of paying lower rebates (or no rebates) to attract orders, setting relatively high prices for market information, and setting relatively low prices for accessing posted liquidity. In this environment, there is no economic basis for regulating maximum prices for one of the joint products in an industry in which suppliers face competitive constraints with regard to the joint offering. This would be akin to strictly regulating the price that an automobile manufacturer can charge for car sound systems despite the existence of a highly competitive market for cars and the availability of after-market alternatives to the manufacturer-supplied system.

The level of competition and contestability in the market is evident in the numerous alternative venues that compete for order flow, including ten self-regulatory organization (“SRO”) markets, as well as internalizing broker-dealers (“BDs”) and various forms of alternative trading systems (“ATSs”), including dark pools and electronic communication networks (“ECNs”). Each SRO market competes to produce transaction reports via trade executions, and two FINRA-regulated Trade Reporting Facilities (“TRFs”) compete to attract internalized transaction reports. It is common for BDs to further and exploit this competition by sending their order flow and transaction reports to multiple markets, rather than providing them all to a single market. Competitive markets for order flow, executions, and transaction reports provide pricing discipline for the inputs of proprietary data products.

The large number of SROs, TRFs, BDs, and ATSs that currently produce proprietary data or are currently capable of producing it provides further pricing discipline for proprietary data products. Each SRO, TRF, ATS, and BD is currently permitted to produce proprietary data products, and many currently do or have announced plans to do so, including NASDAQ, NYSE, NYSE Amex, NYSEArca, and BATS.

Any ATS or BD can combine with any other ATS, BD, or multiple ATSs or BDs to produce joint proprietary data products. Additionally, order routers and market data vendors can facilitate single or multiple BDs' production of proprietary data products. The potential sources of proprietary products are virtually limitless.

The fact that proprietary data from ATSs, BDs, and vendors can by-pass SROs is significant in two respects. First, non-SROs can compete directly with SROs for the production and sale of proprietary data products, as BATS and Arca did before registering as exchanges by publishing proprietary book data on the Internet. Second, because a single order or transaction report can appear in an SRO proprietary product, a non-SRO proprietary product, or both, the data available in proprietary products is exponentially greater than the actual number of orders and transaction reports that exist in the marketplace.

In addition to the competition and price discipline described above, the market for proprietary data products is also highly contestable because market entry is rapid, inexpensive, and profitable. The history of electronic trading is replete with examples of entrants that swiftly grew into some of the largest electronic trading platforms and proprietary data producers: Start Printed Page 20057Archipelago, Bloomberg Tradebook, Island, RediBook, Attain, TracECN, BATS Trading and Direct Edge. Today, BATS publishes its data at no charge on its Web site in order to attract order flow, and it uses market data revenue rebates from the resulting executions to maintain low execution charges for its users. A proliferation of dark pools and other ATSs operate profitably with fragmentary shares of consolidated market volume.

Regulation NMS, by deregulating the market for proprietary data, has increased the contestability of that market. While broker-dealers have previously published their proprietary data individually, Regulation NMS encourages market data vendors and broker-dealers to produce proprietary products cooperatively in a manner never before possible. Multiple market data vendors already have the capability to aggregate data and disseminate it on a profitable scale, including Bloomberg, Reuters and Thomson.

The competitive nature of the market for products such as NLS is borne out by the performance of the market. In May 2008, the internet portal Yahoo! began offering its website viewers real-time last sale data provided by BATS Trading. NLS competes directly with the BATS product that is still disseminated via Yahoo! The New York Stock Exchange also distributes competing last sale data products at a price comparable to the price of NLS. Under the regime of Regulation NMS, there is no limit to the number of competing products that can be developed quickly and at low cost.

Moreover, consolidated data provides two additional measures of pricing discipline for proprietary data products that are a subset of the consolidated data stream. First, the consolidated data is widely available in real-time at $1 per month for non-professional users. Second, consolidated data is also available at no cost with a 15- or 20- minute delay. Because consolidated data contains marketwide information, it effectively places a cap on the fees assessed for proprietary data (such as last sale data) that is simply a subset of the consolidated data. The mere availability of low-cost or free consolidated data provides a powerful form of pricing discipline for proprietary data products that contain data elements that are a subset of the consolidated data, by highlighting the optional nature of proprietary products.

In this environment, a super-competitive increase in the fees charged for either transactions or data has the potential to impair revenues from both products. “No one disputes that competition for order flow is `fierce'.” NetCoalition at 24. The existence of fierce competition for order flow implies a high degree of price sensitivity on the part of broker-dealers with order flow, since they may readily reduce costs by directing orders toward the lowest-cost trading venues. A broker-dealer that shifted its order flow from one platform to another in response to order execution price differentials would both reduce the value of that platform's market data and reduce its own need to consume data from the disfavored platform. If a platform increases its market data fees, the change will affect the overall cost of doing business with the platform, and affected broker-dealers will assess whether they can lower their trading costs by directing orders elsewhere and thereby lessening the need for the more expensive data. Similarly, increases in the cost of NLS would impair the willingness of distributors to take a product for which there are numerous alternatives, impacting NLS data revenues, the value of NLS as a tool for attracting order flow, and ultimately, the volume of orders routed to NASDAQ and the value of its other data products.

In establishing the price for the NASDAQ Last Sale Products, NASDAQ considered the competitiveness of the market for last sale data and all of the implications of that competition. NASDAQ believes that it has considered all relevant factors and has not considered irrelevant factors in order to establish a fair, reasonable, and not unreasonably discriminatory fees and an equitable allocation of fees among all users. The existence of numerous alternatives to NLS, including real-time consolidated data, free delayed consolidated data, and proprietary data from other sources ensures that NASDAQ cannot set unreasonable fees, or fees that are unreasonably discriminatory, without losing business to these alternatives. Accordingly, NASDAQ believes that the acceptance of the NLS product in the marketplace demonstrates the consistency of these fees with applicable statutory standards.

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

Three comment letters were filed regarding the proposed rule change as originally published for comment NASDAQ responded to these comments in a letter dated December 13, 2007. Both the comment letters and NASDAQ's response are available on the SEC Web site at​comments/​sr-nasdaq-2006-060/​nasdaq2006060.shtml.

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

The foregoing rule change has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A)(ii) of the Act.[9] At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, the Commission summarily may temporarily suspend 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. If the Commission takes such action, the Commission shall institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule should be approved or disapproved.

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-NASDAQ-2011-044. 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 (​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 Start Printed Page 20058provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for website viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of the filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. 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-NASDAQ-2011-044 and should be submitted on or before May 2, 2011.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.[10]

Cathy H. Ahn,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble


3.  NASDAQ previously stated that it would file a proposed rule change to make the NLS pilot fees permanent. NASDAQ has also informed Commission staff that it is consulting with FINRA to develop a proposed rule change by FINRA to allow inclusion of FINRA/NASDAQ TRF data in NLS on a permanent basis. However, FINRA and NASDAQ have not completed their consultations regarding such a proposed rule change. Accordingly, NASDAQ is filing to seek a three-month extension of the existing pilot.

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6.  Securities Exchange Act Release No. 51808 (June 9, 2005), 70 FR 37496 (June 29, 2005).

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7.  NetCoaliton v. SEC [sic] at p. 16.

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8.  It should also be noted that Section 916 of Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”) has amended paragraph (A) of Section 19(b)(3) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3) to make it clear that all exchange fees, including fees for market data, may be filed by exchanges on an immediately effective basis. Although this change in the law does not alter the Commission's authority to evaluate and ultimately disapprove exchange rules if it concludes that they are not consistent with the Act, it unambiguously reflects a conclusion that market data fee changes do not require prior Commission review before taking effect, and that a formal proceeding with regard to a particular fee change is required only if the Commission determines that it is necessary or appropriate to suspend the fee and institute such a proceeding.

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9.  15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3)(a)(ii) [sic].

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[FR Doc. 2011-8475 Filed 4-8-11; 8:45 am]