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January 1, 2005

Short Sale Reform Plan on Hold

By Gregory Bresiger

The short sale reform pilot, which had been slated to begin on January 3, 2005, has been delayed until May 2, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The regulators took the step after they heard complaints from officials of several market centers. They said that they would not be able to update their systems in time. The one-year pilot requires market centers to mark short sale orders of pilot stocks as "short exempt" so that such orders are not subject to price tests.

The market centers are required to do this by masking short sale instructions on pilot stocks and executing the short sales as short exempt.

"Some market centers, however," the SEC wrote, "would be required to make significant changes to their systems, and we understand that some of the market centers would not be able to complete all the necessary systems by January 3, 2005."