Nasdaq: the biggest gain

Two days after the New York Stock Exchange announced plans to combine with the Archipelago electronic network, the Nasdaq stockmarket unveiled a similar deal. &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Nasdaq, the NYSE's major rival, said on Friday it would buy the nation's other major electronic trading network, owned by Instinet Group, for $US934.5 million ($1.12 billion).

The move caps a period of consolidation during which the number of US stock-trading rivals shrank from more than a dozen a few years ago to four major players at the beginning of this year. "You end up with two strong competitors that are equal," said Jodi Burns, a senior analyst with Celent Communications, consultants and researchers.

Unlike the NYSE, where 10 per cent of shares are traded electronically and the rest through a floor-auction system, Nasdaq is 100 per cent electronic. So individuals placing trades there are not likely to notice any difference after the Instinet purchase, said Jim Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown University, tells the Sydney Morning Herald.

According to Bloomberg, shares of Nasdaq, which plans to keep Instinet's &to=http:// ' target=_blank>electronic-trading unit, INET ECN, surged US$2.78 on Friday, or 26 per cent, to US$13.43, the biggest gain since the company went public in July 2002.

Instinet fell 51USc, or 9 per cent, to US$5.19 after investors had speculated it would fetch a higher price.

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