The National Association of Securities Dealers said that it will begin preparations for a second session of trading that will run from 5.30pm to 9 or 10pm. It set no timetable for the introduction of the new session, but officials suggested it was likely to debut in September.
The move may force the hand of the New York Stock Exchange, which in recent days has also been mulling plans for extended trading hours. Both the NYSE and the Nasdaq have found themselves robbed of business because of the amount of trading done after-hours over the Internet. The exchanges are also facing competition from private electronic trading systems.
The changes will have to win approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC chairman, Arthur Levitt, has already said he will not stand in their way though he would rather that the new hours were not introduced until next year. Time is needed for the industry to prepare, he said.