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SEC halts timeline for exchanges to resubmit challenged market-data fee filings

Wall Street's chief regulator has officially hit the pause button on a series of deadlines requiring the largest U.S. exchanges to rethink their market data businesses.

On Dec. 14, the SEC's five-person commission rejected the New York Stock Exchange's motion to stay an October remand order that forced the Intercontinental Exchange Inc.-owned venue, Nasdaq Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. to review and resubmit more than 400 contested market data-related fee filings. The agency also delayed the implementation of a one-year timeline that requires exchanges to meet certain benchmarks as they review those challenged filings.

The rejection came four weeks after the New York Stock Exchange told the regulator that it had until Nov. 30 to grant its stay request. If the SEC did not comply with the inquiry, the exchange said it would seek out judicial relief in federal court over the filing resubmissions.

But two weeks after the exchange's deadline, the SEC denied the "premature" stay motion. The agency said there are still several pending motions for reconsideration that relate to the original October decision, which, if granted, "might obviate the need for judicial review," the SEC wrote in its Dec. 14 decision.

The decision marks the latest development in what has become a complex legal web ensnaring the SEC, the exchanges and several other market participants.

In October, the SEC provided Wall Street with a landmark legal win in the ongoing debate over exchanges' market data products, which brokers/dealers, banks and traders have argued are unreasonably expensive. It was then that the SEC issued its remand order, saying that the exchanges had six months from the ruling to create and report procedures for how future fee filings would be developed. The exchanges would then have another six months to institute those new processes.

The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and Cboe have all taken issue with the October ruling. Cboe has called the decision to send back the filings "an unprecedented, extraordinary overreach" by the SEC. In November, the New York Stock Exchange argued that the order to create new procedures has "no basis in law."

Now, as the agency reviews the pending motions for reconsideration, the SEC has put those timetables on hold, the agency said in its most recent determination.

Spokespeople for the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and Cboe declined to comment on the decision.