SEC May Postpone Decimalization Move

FRAMINGHAM (03/31/2000) - Now that The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. has admitted that it won't meet the July 3 deadline to prepare its computer systems to handle decimal-based stock prices, the Securities and Exchange Commission will likely extend the deadline by a month or two.

SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt said he was "dismayed and disappointed" by Nasdaq's request for a delay, but that the SEC is likely bump the cutover date for brokerages, exchanges and other market participants.

"We are working to accomplish decimalization as expeditiously and as safely as possible," said SEC spokesman John Heine, although he added that the deadline has not yet been officially changed.

Meanwhile, Nasdaq officials said they were targeting the first quarter of 2001 to handle decimal-based pricing and processing -- several months beyond the extended deadline that the SEC is expected to set.

The biggest challenge for Nasdaq and other players is the dramatic increase in trade and quote traffic that decimalization is expected to generate.

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