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July 31, 1998

At Deadline - Anonymity?

By John A. Byrne

How long can electronic communications networks (ECNs), such as Reuters Holdings' Instinet keep trading interest at its current level of anonymity? That's the question on traders lips in the wake of a new Nasdaq proposal which set off alarm bells in the trading community.

The Nasdaq proposal could curb the ability of institutions to trade large blocks of shares while keeping a portion of the order in reserve. Under the proposal, Nasdaq wants to implement a rule requiring the full block order to be executed even if some of the trade is not worked.

What's more, Nasdaq wants ECNs to provide it with more information on their customers to help resolve operational and trading problems. That proposal has angered some officials at ECNs who note that Nasdaq is seeking to develop its own ECN, or so-called central limit order book.