Nasdaq Seeks to Bolster NOM

Terry Flanagan

With Nasdaq OMX’s PHLX options exchange consistently ranking at or near the top of reported volume rankings, the company is moving to recreate some of that same success on its smaller Nasdaq Options Market.

Nasdaq in August plans to launch NOM 2.0, which is essentially an integration of the technology and interfaces currently used by market makers trading on PHLX, in the hopes of bringing in liquidity from users already transacting on the Philadelphia exchange.

In addition, Nasdaq will continue to add and improve the functionality and technology on both of its options exchanges as well as introduce new proprietary products, Nasdaq PHLX President Tom Wittman told Markets Media on Friday.

Options trading volume has increased this year, and Nasdaq is expected to have had a substantial portion of July equity options trading when the Options Clearing Corp. reports monthly numbers on Monday. Nasdaq had about 28.9 percent market share in the second quarter, the company said on its earnings conference call earlier last week.

Since its inception in March 2008, NOM has seen a slow but steady rise in options volume market share to its current level of about 4.6 percent. On the other hand, PHLX, the oldest exchange in the U.S., has seen its market share increase from about 15 percent in July 2008, when it was acquired by Nasdaq, to 24.3 percent as of midyear 2011. This is good enough to rank it first among options exchanges in market share, a distinction it has held now for four straight quarters.

Wittman said the increase has been “largely driven by the ability to run two options venues” with two different market models. The capacity for PHLX to attract order flow both electronically and through the open outcry floor system has also contributed, noted Wittman.

Some critics have said that PHLX’s reported volume numbers are inflated by the inclusion of so-called dividend trades, a low-risk play on options contracts of companies that are about to issue dividends. Wittman disagrees.

“Those trades are still revenue-based trades for an exchange,” said Wittman. “And if you back those out, we’re still the number one trading venue for equity options.”

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