NEW YORK -- Some West Coast members of the New York Stock Exchange are circulating a petition to stop the exchange's plan to begin trading a half-hour earlier, at 9 a.m. EDT.
The opponents say the earlier opening will raise costs without increasing revenue. They also say it will place an unfair burden on West Coast firms, already struggling to get staffs ready by 6:30 a.m. Pacific time, the current opening.
"On a practical basis, you will end up increasing costs and hurting the smaller firms," said Seth J. Gersch, chief operating officer of Montgomery Securities Inc., a San Francisco brokerage firm that is leading the petition drive.
Mr. Gersch said he met with Richard Grasso, the NYSE's executive vice chairman, Tuesday before deciding to take the matter to the NYSE membership.
"I have assurances from many, many firms, not only those in California, that they are against" longer hours, Mr. Gersch said.
The petition calls for a change in the constitution of the stock exchange so that the hours could not be changed unless two-thirds of the 1,366 members approved.
NYSE spokeswoman Sharon Gamsin said yesterday that the exchange's 27-member board of directors had approved the new hours.
"The trend in the market is toward longer hours. We understand that they [California firms] have concerns, but they have to understand this is the direction the market is moving in," Ms. Gamsin said.
Last month, the NYSE introduced after-hours trading in two limited sessions between 4 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. But activity has been sluggish in those sessions and has not achieved the NYSE's goal of recapturing trades that have gone to the London Stock Exchange.
The earlier opening was announced July 3. If the Securities and Exchange Commission approves, it will begin Sept. 9.
The American Stock Exchange and regional exchanges are expected to change their hours to match those of the NYSE.