In November 2008, the SEC approved a plan to establish a uniform system for the selection and reservation of securities trading symbols across all national securities exchanges. The NYSE, NYSE MKT and NYSE Arca joined this plan in December 2008. Today, under the plan, issuers on all participant exchanges can select trading symbols containing between one and five characters and issuers have the right to retain their symbols when they transfer to a new exchange.
The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) was selected as processor under the plan. Phase one of the system went into effect on May 1, 2009 when all participant exchanges began using the OCC's system as the sole means to select and reserve symbols.
NYSE, NYSE MKT and NYSE Arca trading systems are ready to accommodate four and five character symbols and testing has been made available to brokers and vendors. On May 4th, the NYSE began trading 4 character symbols when three companies switched to four characters - CACI International Inc. (NYSE: CACI), ACGO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO) and Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE & VALE.P). The plan provides that participant exchanges may use symbols containing up to 5 characters and the NYSE, NYSE MKT and NYSE Arca are ready to begin trading 5 character symbols. Some exchanges, vendors and brokers have advised they are still working to accommodate five character symbols and it is expected that 5 character symbols will be available to issuers during early 2010.
Details about the plan, amendments to the plan, updates about testing and the admission of four and five character symbols to the NYSE, NYSE MKT and NYSE Arca are included below:
NYSE Common Customer Gateway (CCG) FIX Specification and API: NYSE Equities Symbology
MKT Symbol Suffixes
ArcaDirect API Specification Version 4.0, Equities Symbology
NYSE Market Update
22 May 2009: NYSE Market Operations Update - May Archives
23 Oct 2009: NYSE Market Operations Update - Four-and Five-Character Symbol Update
02 Dec 2008: NYSE Market Operations Update - Four- and Five-Character Symbol Test