November 10, 2011.
Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),
and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,
notice is hereby given that on October 31, 2011, NYSE Amex LLC (the “Exchange” or “NYSE Amex”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the self-regulatory organization. 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 amend NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104 to codify certain traditional Trading Floor 
functions that may be performed by Designated Market Makers (“DMMs”),
to make Exchange systems available to DMMs that would provide DMMs with certain market information, to amend the Exchange's rules governing the ability of DMMs to provide market information to Floor brokers, and to make conforming amendments to other rules. The text of the proposed rule change is available at the Exchange, the Commission's Public Reference Room, and www.nyse.com.
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.Start Printed Page 71406
A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change
The Exchange proposes to amend NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104 to codify certain traditional Trading Floor functions that may be performed by DMMs. These functions were previously described in the Floor Official Manual for the New York Stock Exchange LLC (“NYSE”). NYSE Amex conformed its equity trading rules and practices to those of the NYSE when it became a subsidiary of NYSE Euronext on October 1, 2008.
In addition, the Exchange proposes to amend its rules to make Exchange systems available to DMMs that would provide DMMs with certain market information about securities in which the DMM is registered. The Exchange also proposes to amend its rules governing the ability of DMMs to provide market information to Floor brokers. Finally, the Exchange proposes to make clarifying and conforming amendments to other rules.
On October 24, 2008, the Commission approved, as a pilot program, certain of the rules that govern the current operation of the NYSE.
These rules are all elements of the NYSE's “New Market Model.” 
The New Market Model pilot rules include NYSE Rule 104, which sets forth certain affirmative obligations of DMMs, the category of market participant that replaced specialists. DMMs have obligations with respect to the quality of the markets in securities to which they are assigned that are similar to certain obligations formerly held by specialists. NYSE Amex adopted amendments to implement the New Market Model, including amendments to NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104, on November 26, 2008.
In addition to their trading functions, DMMs provide support on the Trading Floor to assist in the efficient operation of the Exchange market and maintain fair and orderly markets. These Trading Floor functions were performed by specialists before the New Market Model was adopted, and the functions were described in the Exchange's Floor Official Manual.
Under the New Market Model, there continues to be a need for DMMs to be permitted to perform these Trading Floor functions. As such, the Exchange proposes to codify these Trading Floor functions into NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104 by adding a new subparagraph (j)(i).
DMM Trading Floor Functions
There are four categories of Trading Floor functions that DMMs may perform: (1) Maintaining order among Floor brokers manually trading at the DMM's assigned panel; (2) bringing Floor brokers together to facilitate trading; (3) assisting Floor brokers with respect to their orders; and (4) researching the status of orders or questioned trades.
First, a DMM may maintain order among Floor brokers manually trading at the DMM's assigned panel. For example, where there is significant agency interest in a security, the DMM may help Floor Officials maintain order by managing trading crowd activity and facilitating the execution of one or more Floor broker's orders trading at the post.
Second, a DMM may bring Floor brokers together to facilitate trading, which may include the DMM acting as a buyer or seller. This function is consistent with the floor-based nature of the Exchange's hybrid market. For example, if a DMM is aware that a Floor broker representing buying interest inquired about selling interest in one of his or her assigned securities and later a Floor broker representing selling interest makes an inquiry about buying interest, the assigned DMM may inform the Floor broker representing the buying interest of the other Floor broker's selling interest. In addition, the DMM itself may provide contra-side interest to a Floor broker representing interest at the post.
Third, DMMs may assist Floor brokers with respect to their orders by providing information regarding the status of a Floor broker's orders, helping to resolve errors or questioned trades, adjusting errors, and cancelling or inputting Floor broker agency interest on behalf of a Floor broker. For example, if a Floor broker's handheld device is not operational, the DMM may assist the Floor broker by entering or canceling broker interest on the Floor broker's behalf.
Fourth, DMMs may research the status of orders or questioned trades. DMMs may do so on their own initiative or at the request of the Exchange or a Floor broker when a Floor broker's hand-held device is not operational, when there is activity indicating that a potentially erroneous order was entered or a potentially erroneous trade was executed, or when there otherwise is an indication that improper activity may be occurring.
DMM Access to Exchange Systems
The Exchange proposes to amend NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104 to add new subparagraph (j)(ii), which would state that the Exchange may make systems available to a DMM at the post that display the following types of information about securities in which the DMM is registered: (A) Aggregated information about buying and selling interest; 
(B) disaggregated information about the price and size of any individual order or Floor broker agency interest file, also known as “e-Quotes,” Start Printed Page 71407except that Exchange systems would not make available to DMMs information about any order or e-Quote, or portion thereof, that a market participant has elected not to display to a DMM; and (C) post-trade information. For the latter two categories, the DMM would have access to entering and clearing firm information and, as applicable, the badge number of the Floor broker representing the order. The systems would not contain any information about the ultimate customer (i.e., the name of the member or member organization's customer) in a transaction. Aggregated information about buying and selling interest and post-trade information are currently available to DMMs.
Under the proposed rule change, Exchange systems would make available to DMMs disaggregated information about the following interest in securities in which the DMM is registered: (a) The price and size of all displayable interest submitted by off-Floor participants; and (b) all e-Quotes, including reserve e-Quotes, that the Floor broker has not elected to exclude from availability to the DMM.
The Exchange believes that it is appropriate to provide DMMs with this disaggregated order information because the information will assist DMMs in carrying out their Trading Floor functions as described above. For example, access to the disaggregated order information will increase DMMs' ability to assist Floor brokers with respect to their orders and researching the status of orders or questioned trades. In addition, providing DMMs with access to the disaggregated order information will contribute to the DMMs' ability to carry out their responsibility for managing the auction market process at the Exchange, which includes the function of bringing buyers and sellers together to facilitate trading. In addition, the proposed rule change would have no impact on the Exchange's priority and parity rules; DMM manual transactions would continue to be required to yield to intra-day public customer orders pursuant to NYSE Amex Equities Rule 72(c)(xi). The Exchange further notes that the manner by which the DMM would access disaggregated order information is limited. For example, a DMM can access the disaggregated order information only while located at the post on the Trading Floor. In addition, DMMs' ability to access the disaggregated order information is largely manual, in that the DMM must query the specific information about a particular security, which limits the number of securities about which disaggregated order information can be accessed at any given time. Exchange systems would not provide any information to the algorithmic trading systems of any DMM unit,
and would not support any electronic dissemination of the disaggregated order information to other market participants. The Exchange notes that market participants who do not want the DMM to have access to disaggregated order information have the option to electronically enter dark interest that is not visible to the DMM in disaggregated form. The Exchange also notes that the proposed rule change would specifically prohibit DMMs from using any trading information available to them in Exchange systems, including disaggregated order information, in a manner that would violate the Exchange rules or federal securities laws or regulations.
In addition, the Exchange notes that any non-public market information that a DMM receives through Exchange systems would be subject to specific restrictions as “non-public order information” 
under NYSE Amex Equities Rule 98. For example, NYSE Amex Equities Rule 98(c)(2)(A) would require DMMs to maintain the confidentiality of any such non-public market information and would prohibit the DMM member organization's departments, divisions, or aggregation units that are not part of the DMM unit, including investment banking, research, and customer-facing departments, from having access to that information. In addition, NYSE Amex Equities Rule 98 sets forth restrictions on access to non-public order information by the off-Floor locations of a DMM unit, including restrictions on the ability of a DMM located on the Trading Floor from communicating directly with off-Floor individuals or systems responsible for making off-Floor trading decisions.
The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change would contribute substantially to the fair and orderly operation of the Exchange Trading Floor, and that the benefits of that contribution would significantly outweigh any incremental benefit to the DMMs by virtue of having access to disaggregated order information. DMM assistance at the post through the performance of the Trading Floor functions is an invaluable resource to minimize any disruption to the market, particularly if the Exchange is experiencing a systems issue; the Exchange systems that provide disaggregated order information play a pivotal role in that assistance, for example by allowing DMMs to enter or cancel orders on behalf of Floor brokers. Allowing DMMs to have access to those Exchange systems to perform the Trading Floor functions is more efficient than diverting Exchange resources to attend to individual Floor broker issues, particularly when the DMMs are ready and able to perform the same functions. In contrast, the proposed rule change would provide DMMs with a disaggregated format of information that they already have access to on an aggregated basis. Any potential value to having order information on a disaggregated basis is mitigated by the fact that DMMs only have information about orders at the Exchange, which represent just a portion of the overall volume of trading in Exchange-listed stocks across the market. The information is likely to be stale upon receipt to the DMMs, thereby diminishing any likelihood that the information would be useful to DMMs in connection with their electronic or algorithmic trading. For example, the DMMs would have to use a manual process to access the information, the DMMs' access to disaggregated information at any given time would be limited to a single stock, and the information would not be dynamically updated to the DMM, in real time or Start Printed Page 71408otherwise. In addition, as described above, all intra-day manual trades entered by the DMM yield to public orders pursuant to NYSE Amex Equities Rule 72 and DMMs are restricted from sharing order information pursuant to NYSE Amex Equities Rule 98, both of which limit any potential for the DMMs to use the disaggregated order information in connection with their manual trading.
To reflect the information that would be available to DMMs through Exchange systems, the Exchange proposes amendments to NYSE Amex Equities Rules 70(e), (f) and (i) and 70.25(a)(vii) to specify which information is available to a DMM through Exchange systems. The Exchange also proposes changes to NYSE Amex Equities Rule 70 to specify what information about e-Quotes is available to the DMM.
In addition, the Exchange proposes to delete NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104(a)(6), which currently provides that DMMs, trading assistants and anyone acting on their behalf are prohibited from using the Display Book® system to access information about Floor broker agency interest excluded from the aggregated agency interest and Minimum Display Reserve Order information other than for the purpose of effecting transactions that are reasonably imminent where such Floor broker agency and Minimum Display Reserve Order interest information is necessary to effect such transaction.
Ability of DMMs To Provide Market Information on the Trading Floor
The Exchange proposes to modify the terms under which DMMs would be permitted to provide market information to Floor brokers and visitors on the Trading Floor. Specifically, NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104(j)(iii) would permit a DMM to provide the market information to which he or she has access under proposed NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104(j)(ii) to: (1) A Floor broker in response to an inquiry in the normal course of business; or (2) a visitor to the Trading Floor for the purpose of demonstrating methods of trading. This aspect of the proposal builds on and modifies current NYSE Amex Equities Rule 115, and the Exchange therefore proposes to delete that Rule, which covers the same subject.
Currently, NYSE Amex Equities Rule 115 provides that a DMM may disclose market information for three purposes. First, a DMM may disclose market information for the purpose of demonstrating the methods of trading to visitors to the Trading Floor. This aspect of current NYSE Amex Equities Rule 115 would be replicated in proposed NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104(j)(iii)(B). Second, a DMM may disclose market information to other market centers in order to facilitate the operation of the Intermarket Trading System (“ITS”). This text is obsolete as the ITS Plan has been eliminated and therefore would not be included in amended NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104.
Third, a DMM may, while acting in a market making capacity, provide information about buying or selling interest in the market, including (a) Aggregated buying or selling interest contained in Floor broker agency interest files other than interest the broker has chosen to exclude from the aggregated buying and selling interest, (b) aggregated interest of Minimum Display Reserve Orders and (c) the interest included in DMM interest files, excluding Capital Commitment Schedule (“CCS”) interest as described in NYSE Amex Equities Rule 1000(c), in response to an inquiry from a member conducting a market probe 
in the normal course of business.
Proposed NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104(j)(iii) would permit DMMs to provide Floor brokers not only with the same aggregated order information that DMMs currently are permitted to provide under NYSE Amex Equities Rule 115 but also with the disaggregated and post-trade order information described above.
Broadening the scope of information that DMMs can provide Floor brokers will assist DMMs with carrying out their historical function of bringing Floor brokers together to facilitate trading. In addition, the Exchange notes that NYSE Amex Equities Rule 115 allowed Exchange specialists to provide disaggregated order information to Floor brokers prior to adoption of the Hybrid Market.
Moreover, as noted above, both Floor brokers and off-Floor participants have the ability to enter partially or completely “dark” orders that are not visible to the DMM, and DMMs therefore would be unable to disseminate information about such “dark” orders or the dark portion of the orders in response to an inquiry from a Floor broker. When providing information, the individual DMM is responsible for fairly and impartially providing accurate and timely information to all inquiring Floor brokers about buying and selling interest in his or her assigned security.
Proposed NYSE Amex Equities Rule 104(j)(iii) also would permit a DMM to provide market information to a Floor broker in response to a specific request by the Floor broker to the DMM at the post, rather than specifying that the information must be provided “in response to an inquiry from a member conducting a market probe in the normal course of business,” as currently provided in NYSE Amex Equities Rule 115. The Exchange believes that the term “market probe” no longer accurately reflects the manner in which DMMs and Floor brokers interact on the Trading Floor. Rather, the Exchange believes that the Floor broker's normal course of business, as an agent for customers, includes both seeking market probes into the depth of the market as well as seeking out willing contra-side buyers and sellers in a particular security. In addition, the rule would specify that a Floor broker may not submit an inquiry to the DMM by electronic means and that the DMM may not use electronic means to transmit market information to a Floor broker in response an inquiry. Under the proposed rule change, Floor brokers would not have access to Exchange systems that provide disaggregated order information, and they would only be able to access such market information through a direct interaction with a DMM at the post.
The Exchange believes that providing Floor brokers with access to the disaggregated order information would serve a valuable function by increasing the ability of Floor brokers to source liquidity and provide price discovery for block transactions. In particular, the ability of Floor brokers to receive the disaggregated order information should, Start Printed Page 71409in turn, enhance their ability to facilitate transactions for their customers by identifying market participants with trading interest that could trade with the Floor brokers' customers. Floor brokers have historically served this role on behalf of their customers, which include institutional clients and block-trading desks, and they continue to perform this agency function today. The Exchange notes that Floor brokers continue to be subject to their existing obligations with respect to Floor trading and access to information. In particular, Floor brokers remain subject to the restrictions in Section 11(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Act”) and the rule thereunder, which effectively prohibit Floor brokers from effecting transactions for their own account, the account of an associated person, or an account with respect to which the member, member organization, or an associated person thereof exercises investment discretion.
2. Statutory Basis
The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of Section 6(b) of the Act,
in general, and Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,
in particular, in that it is designed to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions in securities, to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism for a free and open market and a national market system and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. In particular, the proposed rule change clarifies that DMMs may perform certain defined Trading Floor functions, which were previously performed by specialists, in furtherance of the efficient, fair, and orderly operation of the Exchange. In addition, increasing the amount of information, including disaggregated order information, that a DMM is permitted to view and provide to Floor brokers would further the ability of DMMs to carry out the defined Trading Floor functions and, as a result, is designed to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market through the efficient operation of the Exchange, in particular by facilitating the bringing of buyers and sellers together. Although a vast majority of the transactions executed on the Exchange are automated, Floor brokers continue to play an important role for customers in those transactions that require the expertise of a professional trading floor agent, including engaging in price discovery and sourcing liquidity for block transactions. While the disaggregated order information that would be available to DMMs and Floor brokers under the proposed rule change is important to them in carrying out their unique roles in a floor trading environment, the Exchange believes this information would not be material to market participants executing automated orders. In addition, the means of access by DMMs and Floor brokers to the disaggregated order information is largely manual. Accordingly, the Exchange believes that access to disaggregated order information as set forth in this proposed rule change provides no unfair advantage to DMMs or Floor brokers. In addition, as noted above, DMMs would be specifically prohibited from using the market information available through Exchange systems for any purpose that would violate Exchange rules or federal securities laws or regulations.
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
No written comments were solicited or received with respect to the proposed rule change.
III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action
Within 45 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period (i) As the Commission may designate up to 90 days of such date if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which the self-regulatory organization consents, the Commission will:
(A) By order approve or disapprove the proposed rule change, or
(B) institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change should be 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:
- 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-NYSEAmex-2011-86. This file number should be included on the subject line if email 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 Web site viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The text of the proposed rule change is available on the Commission's Web site at http://www.sec.gov. Copies of such 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-NYSEAmex-2011-86 and should be submitted on or before December 8, 2011.
Start Printed Page 71410
For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.
Elizabeth M. Murphy,
[FR Doc. 2011-29678 Filed 11-16-11; 8:45 am]
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