The American Stock Exchange today called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine the competitive questions it says are raised by the rival New York Stock Exchange's proposal to begin trading options by the end of this year.
Apparently attempting to head off the NYSE challenge in the options area, Amex chairman Paul Kolton made the plea for a full-blown SEC investigation into the NYSE application in a letter to commission chairman Harold Williams.
The NYSE made its filing last week. The big board is now the only major stock exhange which does not offer options trading. But it is the primary market for nearly all of the securities underlying the options traded on other exchanges.
Merger talks between the NYSe and Amex recently foundered, with the issue of NYSE entry into options trading believed to have contributed to the breakdown.
The Big Board's entry into options "would represent a quantum leap in the expansion of options activity" because of the NYSE's "overwhelming economic power" and "dominance of the securities markets" and could end up diverting investment capital needed by U.S. corporations.
Possible impairment of "presently viable competing options market" because of the NYSE's clout, and perhaps greater difficulty in reaching a national market system "if the NYSE were an increasingly dominant factor" in both the stock and options markets.
A competitive advantage to NYSE floor members "over all other individuals trading option" because they would be the only ones with full access to the stock and options markets in the same issue.