June 5, 2019.
Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Act”),
and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,
notice is hereby given that on May 30, 2019, BOX Exchange LLC (the “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the Exchange. The Exchange filed the proposal as a “non-controversial” proposed rule change pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A)(iii) of the Act 
and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder.
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 BOX Rule IM-5050-1 (Strike Price Intervals) to allow for $1 strike prices above $200 on additional options on Units of certain exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) products. The text of the proposed rule change is available from the principal office of the Exchange, at the Commission's Public Reference Room and also on the Exchange's internet website at http://boxoptions.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 these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. The self-regulatory organization 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
The Exchange proposes to amend BOX Rule IM-5050-1 to allow for $1 strike prices above $200 on additional options on Units of certain exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) products. This is a competitive filing that is based on a proposal recently submitted by Cboe Exchange, Inc. (“Cboe”) and approved by the Commission.
Currently, IM-5050-1(b) to Rule 5050 allows for the interval between strike prices of series of options on Units of SPY, IVV, and DIA to be $1 or greater where the strike price is greater than $200. Under IM-5050-1(b), for all other series of options on Exchange Traded Fund Shares that satisfy the criteria set forth in Rule 5020(h), the interval of strike prices may be $1 or greater where the strike price is $200 or less or $5 or greater where the strike price is over $200. The Exchange now proposes to modify the interval setting regime to allow $1 strike price intervals where the strike price is above $200 for IWM and QQQ options. The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change would make QQQ and IWM options easier for investors and traders to use and more tailored to their investment needs.
The QQQ and IWM are designed to provide investors different ways to efficiently gain exposure to the equity markets and execute risk management, hedging, asset allocation and income generation strategies. The QQQ is a Unit investment trust designed to closely track the price and performance of a the Nasdaq-100 Index (“NDX”), which represents the largest and most active non-financial domestic and international issues listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization. Likewise, the IWM is an index ETF designed to closely track the price and performance of the Russell 2000 Index (“RUT”), which represents the small capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market. In general, QQQ and Start Printed Page 27174IWM options provide investors with the benefit of trading broader markets in a manageably sized contract.
The value of QQQ is designed to approximate 1/40 the value of the underlying NDX. For example, if the NDX price level is 1400, QQQ strike prices generally would be expected to be priced around $35. The value of IWM is designed to approximate 1/10 the value of the underlying RUT. In the past year, the NDX has climbed above a price level of 7500, and the RUT climbed to a price level of approximately 1700 (both prior to the December 2018 market-wide decline). As the value of the underlying ETF (and the index the ETF tracks) and resulting strike prices for each option continues to appreciate, market participants have requested the listing of additional strike prices ($1 increments) in QQQ and IWM options above $200. The QQQ is among the most actively traded ETFs on the market. It is widely quoted as an indicator of technology stock prices and investor confidence in the technology and telecommunication market spaces, a significant indicator of overall economic health. Similarly, IWM is among the most actively traded ETFs on the market and provides investors with an investment tool to gain exposure to small U.S. public companies. Industry-wide trade volume in QQQ more than doubled from 2017 to 2018. As a result, QQQ options and IWM options have grown to become two of the largest options contracts in terms of trading volume. Investors use these products to diversify their portfolios and benefit from market trends.
Accordingly, the Exchange believes that offering a wider base of QQQ and IWM options affords traders and investors important hedging and trading opportunities, particularly in the midst of current price trends. The Exchange believes that not having the proposed $1 strike price intervals above $200 in QQQ and IWM significantly constricts investors' hedging and trading possibilities. The Exchange therefore believes that by having smaller strike intervals in QQQ and IWM, investors would have more efficient hedging and trading opportunities due to the lower $1 interval ascension. The proposed $1 intervals above the $200 strike price will result in having at-the-money series based upon the underlying ETFs moving less than 1%. The Exchange believes that the proposed strike setting regime is in line with the slower movements of broad-based indices. Considering the fact that $1 intervals already exist below the $200 price point and that both QQQ and IWM have consistently inclined in price toward the $200 level, the Exchange believes that continuing to maintain the current $200 level (above which intervals increase 500% to $5), may have a negative effect on investing, trading and hedging opportunities, and volume. The Exchange believes that the investing, trading, and hedging opportunities available with QQQ and IWM options far outweighs any potential negative impact of allowing QQQ and IWM options to trade in more finely tailored intervals above the $200 price point.
The proposed strike setting regime would permit strikes to be set to more closely reflect the increasing values in the underlying indices and allow investors and traders to roll open positions from a lower strike to a higher strike in conjunction with the price movements of the underlying ETFs. Under the current rule, where the next higher available series would be $5 away above a $200 strike price, the ability to roll such positions is effectively negated. Accordingly, to move a position from a $200 strike to a $205 strike under the current rule, an investor would need for the underlying product to move 2.5%, and would not be able to execute a roll up until such a large movement occurred. As stated, the NDX and RUT have experienced continued, steady growth. The Exchange believes that with the proposed rule change, the investor would be in a significantly safer position of being able to roll his open options position from a $200 to a $201 strike price, which is only a 0.5% move for the underlying. As a result, the proposed rule change will allow the Exchange to better respond to customer demand for QQQ and IWM strike prices more precisely aligned with the smaller, longer-term incremental increases in respective underlying ETFs. The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change, like the other strike price programs currently offered by the Exchange, will benefit investors by providing investors the flexibility to more closely tailor their investment and hedging decisions using QQQ and IWM options. Moreover, by allowing series of QQQ and IWM options to be listed in $1 intervals between strike prices over $200, the proposal will moderately augment the potential total number of options series available on the Exchange. However, the Exchange believes it and the Options Price Reporting Authority (“OPRA”) have the necessary systems capacity to handle any potential additional traffic associated with this proposed rule change. The Exchange also believes that Participants will not have a capacity issue due to the proposed rule change. In addition, the Exchange represents that it does not believe that this expansion will cause fragmentation of liquidity, but rather, believes that finer strike intervals will serve to increase liquidity available as well as price efficiency by providing more trading opportunities for all market participants.
2. Statutory Basis
The Exchange believes that the proposal is consistent with the requirements of Section 6(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Act”),
in general, and Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,
in particular, in that it is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in facilitating transactions in securities, 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.
In particular, the proposed rule change to IM-5050-1(b) will allow investors to more easily use QQQ and IWM options. Moreover, the proposed rule change would allow investors to better trade and hedge positions in QQQ and IWM options where the strike price is greater than $200, and ensure that investors in both options are not at a disadvantage simply because of the strike price.
The Exchange believes the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(1) of the Act, which provides that the Exchange be organized and have the capacity to be able to carry out the purposes of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder, and the rules of the Exchange. The rule change proposal allows the Exchange to respond to customer demand to allow QQQ and IWM options to trade in $1 intervals above a $200 strike price. The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule would create additional capacity issues or affect market functionality.
As noted above, ETF options trade in wider $5 intervals above a $200 strike price, whereby options at or below a $200 strike price trade in $1 intervals. This creates a situation where contracts on the same option class effectively may not be able to execute certain strategies such as, for example, rolling to a higher strike price, simply because of the $200 strike price above which options intervals increase by 500%. This proposal remedies the situation by Start Printed Page 27175establishing an exception to the current ETF interval regime for QQQ and IWM options to allow such options to trade in $1 or greater intervals at all strike prices.
The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change, like other strike price programs currently offered by the Exchange, will benefit investors by giving them increased flexibility to more closely tailor their investment and hedging decisions. Moreover, the proposed rule change is consistent with changes adopted by Cboe.
With regard to the impact of this proposal on system capacity, the Exchange believes it and OPRA have the necessary systems capacity to handle any potential additional traffic associated with this proposed rule change. The Exchange believes that its Participants will not have a capacity issue as a result of this proposal.
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 not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. Rather, the Exchange believes that the proposed rule change will result in additional investment options and opportunities to achieve the investment and trading objectives of market participants seeking efficient trading and hedging vehicles, to the benefit of investors, market participants, and the marketplace in general. Specifically, the Exchange believes that QQQ and IWM options investors and traders will significantly benefit from the availability of finer strike price intervals above a $200 price point. In addition, the interval setting regime the Exchange proposes to apply to QQQ and IWM options is currently applied to SPY, IVV, and DIA options, which are similarly popular and widely traded ETF products and track indexes at similarly high price levels. Thus, the proposed strike setting regime for QQQ and IWM options will allow options on the most actively traded ETFs with index levels at corresponding price levels to trade pursuant to the same strike setting regime. This will permit investors to employ similar investment and hedging strategies for each of these options.
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 comments on the proposed rule change.
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 
and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder.
A proposed rule change filed pursuant to Rule 19b-4(f)(6) under the Act 
normally does not become operative for 30 days after the date of its 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 Exchange has requested that the Commission waive the 30-day operative delay so that the proposed rule change may become operative upon filing. The Exchange asserts that waiving the operative delay would be consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest because the proposed rule change would ensure fair competition among the exchanges (because the proposed rule change is modelled after a rule of another exchange, and allow more investors to immediately start trading options on QQQ and IWM at the proposed strike price intervals. The Commission believes that the proposal raises no new or substantive issues and that waiver of the 30-day operative delay is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest. The Commission hereby waives the operative delay and designates the proposed rule change operative upon filing.
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 will institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change 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:
- Send paper comments in triplicate to Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549-1090.
All submissions should refer to File Number SR-BOX-2019-18. 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 website (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 website viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Copies of the filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal Start Printed Page 27176office of the Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change. Persons submitting comments are cautioned that we do not redact or edit personal identifying information from comment submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR-BOX-2019-18 and should be submitted on or before July 2, 2019.
For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.
Eduardo A. Aleman,
[FR Doc. 2019-12188 Filed 6-10-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P