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Stock Markets Plan Longer Hours

AROUND-THE-CLOCK TRADING

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OFFICIALS of the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, and other major exchanges in the United States are putting together elaborate plans for 24-hour trading in stocks, options, and other investments. But experts say full-scale 24-hour trading is still years away. And in the hinterland - where Americans live and work and sometimes buy and sell stocks and bonds - there is little awareness of or even interest in around-the-clock trading, observers say.

``We're hearing nothing about it [24-hour trading] here, other than what we read in the papers. No one is even asking us about it,'' says Joseph Borreyer, who handles investment accounts for the First National Bank of Springfield, in Illinois.

Nor is the apparent lack of interest in Springfield unusual. In downtown Seattle, a broker with Prudential-Bache Securities says, ``There's little interest by investors here in the concept, and nothing has come down to us on it from our parent offices.''

Still, the accelerated rush to 24-hour trading is taking place on at least four levels:

1. The NYSE has said that it will begin limited 24-hour trading later this year. The Big Board plans to have a complete around-the-clock system in place by the end of the decade.

The Big Board is ``being very crafty in the way it is setting up 24-hour trading,'' says Merton Miller, professor of finance with the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. The first step, Dr. Miller notes, is to provide for ``crossing trades,'' in which the buyer and seller of a stock have already been matched. Such cross trades, he says, are already performed in London.

2. The American Stock Exchange, the Chicago Options Exchange, the Cincinnati Stock Exchange, and Reuters Holdings PLC plan to have night trading under way by 1992.

3. The National Association of Securities Dealers, which maintains the Nasdaq listing system, plans to begin Nasdaq International, a global network, starting in early September. It will provide computer trading of up to 500 stocks during the pre-dawn hours, starting at around 3:30 a.m., New York time.

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