Fifth Third Unit Buying Transaction Processor

CINCINNATI - Fifth Third Bancorp's transaction processing subsidiary, MPS, has signed an agreement to buy Integrated Delivery Technologies Inc., which owns Buffalo-based Cartel Network.Terms of the deal, expected to close in April, were not disclosed. The deal will add 73 financial institutions to MPS's base of 1,400 customers. Cartel Network, an automated teller machine network, is an established brand in the Northeast, primarily in New York and Connecticut. It handles some 20 million transactions a year compared with MPS's 3.7 billion.Cartel Network focuses on small institutions. MPS handles transaction processing for both large and small institutions.-- Lisa Fickenscher


SEC Approves 1st New Exchange in 27 Years

WASHINGTON - For the first time in 27 years, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday approved an application to open a new exchange.The applicant was International Securities Exchange, which plans an electronic exchange for trading options on U.S. equities. It would trade 600 of the most active options classes, though it would not have a physical trading floor.Before it can begin trading, International Securities must become a member of the Options Clearing Corp. and join the organization responsible for consolidating and disseminating options market quotations.There are three outstanding applications to become exchanges - by Island ECN Inc., Archipelago, and MartetXT, an SEC spokesman said.- Cheryl Winokur


NASD, NYSE Warn About Margin Buying

WASHINGTON - The National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. and the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday issued a joint warning to their members on the pitfalls of buying on margin.The self-regulatory organizations reminded members of their respective margin rules as well as the need to advise investors about the risks of investing on margin. They also said sales personnel should be advised of appropriate steps in cases where investors significantly increase their margin borrowings.In addition, the agencies said incentive programs that promote the solicitation of margin accounts should be carefully reviewed and possibly curtailed.The organizations' initiative comes as margin borrowing is on the rise. Outstanding margin debt for NYSE and NASD rose to $162.3 billion last month, 22% more than a year earlier.Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan also publicly expressed concern twice last month about increased margin borrowing and said his agency was looking into the issue.-- Cheryl Winokur


National Discount Brokers Site Goes Down

NEW YORK - National Discount Brokers Group said a 70-minute outage on its Web site Thursday was caused by hackers.The attack follows several similar occurrences on other sites this month and came amid a particularly volatile trading session.The site shut down about 1 p.m. after experiencing unusually slow activity, according to Dennis Marino, chairman of NDB.com."It has all the earmarks of the denial-of-service hype," said Mr. Marino. "Denial of service attacks," like the ones launched against Yahoo Inc., eBay Inc., E-Trade Group Inc., and others this month occur when Web sites are overloaded with frivolous inquiries from other computers.No customer account information was jeopardized, Mr. Marino said. National Discount Brokers has notified the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Association of Securities Dealers, and the FBI.- Bloomberg News

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