Thursday, August 26, 2004

Demand for NYSE seats is down

Gee, who would have "thunk" it? With the NYSE facing increased competition from the NASDAQ, ECNs, and regional exchanges, it only stood to reason that profits of the NYSE would fall. This hypothesis received more confirmation in the market for NYSE Membership (or seats). Evidence shows that the demand for seats is low.

A few weeks ago it was reported that seat prices were as low as $1.25 million dollars. This price was as low as membership had been in the past five years.

Now the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that not only have seat prices fallen, but many owners who do not want to use their membership, are having a difficult time renting the seats.

"About 60 members, or 4 percent of the 1,366 total, were awaiting rental offers in early August, according to a list kept by the exchange's membership department. As recently as 2002, the NYSE had a waiting list for memberships, which confer the rights to buy and sell stock on the floor

Meanwhile, the price to own a seat on the exchange has dropped about 50 percent in the last five years. The last one sold for $1.25 million this month.

In addition, the rental price for a seat is down: A member's stock exchange "seat" rents for about $3,000 a week now, or about half the rent charged in 2002"
Philadelphia Inquirer

All in all the evidence suggests that while the NYSE will survive and prosper, it will never have the dominance it did for much of its history and will be unable to command the large fees from investors.

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