The Nasdaq Stock Market maintains it is on track
to convert share prices to decimals by April 9, despite a
contention by stock traders that the Nasdaq needs at least another
"We will be ready," said Nasdaq spokesman Scott Peterson on
Earlier this week, stock traders asked the Securities and
Exchange Commission to extend the April deadline for implementing
decimal-priced stock quotes by at least four months. The traders
say the automated Nasdaq, long credited for its innovation in
computerized trading, needs more time.
"The current plan does not provide enough time to adequately
test and assess the many technology and trading issues associated
with the conversion," the Security Traders Association contended
in a Feb. 20 letter to Laura Unger, the SEC's acting chairwoman.
The Nasdaq plans to test decimal pricing twice next month before
converting the prices of its nearly 5,000 stocks by April 9.
"Nothing has changed," Peterson said. "We're on the launch
pad and the countdown has begun."
Peterson would not comment on whether the Nasdaq would change
its plans if the SEC extends the deadline.
The SEC said on Wednesday that it received the letter but
declined further comment.
The government mandated in 1997 that U.S. stock markets price
their issues in decimals, saying investors would better understand
a price of $10.63 than $10 5/8. Decimals also allow stocks to be
traded in penny increments, no longer limiting them to halves,
quarters, eighths and sixteenths.
The Nasdaq last year said its computers, strained by heavy
trading volume, weren't ready to handle the change. The SEC then
pushed back its original July 3, 2000 deadline to this April.
The New York Stock Exchange converted all of its trading to
decimals on Jan. 29.