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AMEX Becomes Latest Participant In the Floor Expansion Trend

AMEX increases the space on its equity and options trading floors and plans to expand further in the near future.

Driven by significant growth it has experienced in its options and exchange traded funds (ETF) businesses, the American Stock Exchange has increased the space on its equity and options trading floors-and plans to expand further in the near future. "We expanded our floor early in the year 2000 by adding on space in our alcoves or mezzanine level," says an exchange spokesperson. "And by this March, we will increase our floor space by an additional one-third-or 7,000 total square feet."

The exchange's desire to expand its physical space was fueled by a variety of growth-related factors.

In 2000, the AMEX traded a record 207.7 million options contracts, and its average daily options volume increased 60 percent from 1999 to 2000. Moreover, simultaneous to that trading volume jump, the AMEX experienced significant growth in its options quote volume. "Three years ago, we were processing between 1 million and 1.5 million options quotes a day. Last year, we averaged 11 to 12 million options quotes a day," says Ravi Apte, executive vice president and chief technology officer of the AMEX.

Separately, the average daily volume for ETF products the AMEX trades jumped from 19.4 million shares in 1999 to 45.8 million shares in 2000-an increase of 136 percent. Moreover, the number of ETFs traded grew from 32 to 92 during that same period. The AMEX spokesperson says that all of these factors helped contribute to the exchange's decision to add to the space on its floors.

Of course, the AMEX is just the latest floor-based U.S. exchange to increase its space. Most notably, the New York Stock Exchange-an AMEX rival in the listed equities space-recently rolled out a state-of-the-art, $60 million trading facility at 30 Broad Street. The Big Board added the new site as a supplement to its old trading floor-which is located right next store at 18 Broad St.

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