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Security Futures in the U.S.: Still No Launch Date

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CHICAGO (HedgeWorld)–Despite years of debate and anticipation, despite the completion this summer of the necessary regulatory framework, nobody yet can say when security futures (i.e. single-stock futures or narrow-based indexes) will be available to investors through any U.S.-based exchange.

“The hope is for this fall, but that is not a guarantee,” said Mary Haffenberg, communications director for OneChicago LLC.

OneChicago will employ a system of lead market makers in the expectation of ensuring liquid markets and tight spreads. In a recent interview for Wall Street & Technology, OneChicago’s chief executive, William Rainer, said that his exchange’s products would not be launched simultaneously, but phased in. He said that he expects that on day one there will be only 15 to 20 products, then “if the technology is humming” another 20 will appear a couple of days later, then still another–reaching the full complement of 100 instruments over a two to three week period.

NQLX, Island, and Instinet

Nasdaq Liffe LLC, a joint venture of Nasdaq and the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, is likewise not in a position to commit to a launch date, according to spokesman Ray Carmichael. It has held regular technology simulations and dress rehearsals since last spring, and “now that the margin rules have been set” by the Securities Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, “those have been plugged in to the simulations.”

Nasdaq Liffe, or NQLX, has its operational headquarters in Chicago, as well as what it calls a “strong presence” in New York.

The Island Futures Exchange LLC, an affiliate of Island ECN Inc. also plans to list security futures shortly, “by the end of the fourth quarter this year or early in the first quarter next,” according to spokesman Chris Concannon.

Recently, Island ECN’s shareholders voted in favor of a merger with the Instinet Group. The integration of the two groups has already begun, Mr. Concannon said, “which is one reason why we’re not trying to get out first on single-stock futures.” One oddity associated with this merger and the resulting integration of the two systems is that Instinet has already announced it will post its Nasdaq quotations in the Alternative Display Facility. A couple weeks ago, it made this decision official in a letter to the SEC. Its merger partner Island, on the other hand, has not committed to participate in the ADF. One effect of Instinet’s decision on ADF is to delay the rollout of Nasdaq’s new order-routing and execution platform, Supermontage, until Oct. 14.


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