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US Securities Commission votes to advance stock market reform proposals. By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Wall Street entrance of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, US, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDiarmid/File Photo

By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission voted on Wednesday to propose some of the biggest changes to the structure of the U.S. stock market in nearly two decades, aimed at enhancing transparency and fairness while increasing competition for stock orders from retail investors.

The SEC said the proposals include a requirement that retail marketable stock orders be sent to auctions before execution, a new standard for brokers to show they have the best possible execution for clients’ orders, lower trading markups and access fees on exchanges.

“We feel that these reforms, if implemented, will ultimately help the price discovery process and save investors money,” said Joe Saluzzi, Co-Director of Trading at Themis Trading.

“Allowing orders to interact with each other, rather than splitting them up, will enhance competition and drive better prices.”

The SEC said opening individual investor orders that can be executed immediately in competitive auctions could lead to “significantly” better prices for investors. Under current practice, retail brokers send most of these orders to wholesale brokers, sometimes for a fee.

“Competitive shortfalls could be about $1.5 billion annually, compared to current practices — money that could go back into the pockets of retail investors,” said Gary Gensler, chairman of the SEC.

The changes, if adopted, would represent the biggest change in stock market rules since the Securities and Exchange Commission introduced the National Market Regulatory System in 2005, which was intended to modernize and enhance an increasingly fragmented and largely electronic market.

Ronan Ryan, president and co-founder of exchange operator IEX Group, said the reforms were “a constructive and positive effort to improve transparency, increase competition and ensure investors have access to the best rates available in the market.”

“It has been 17 years since the current equity rules were adopted, and since that time, the stock market has undergone significant change — including the advent of high-frequency trading, a significant reduction in the liquidity offered on the exchange, and a significant rise in over-the-counter trading,” Ryan said.

“Updating the regulations ensures that market competition between brokers, market makers and exchanges continues to benefit investors.”

A competition order rule, which requires marketable retail orders to be submitted to auctions, could lead to more such orders being matched on exchanges, such as the NASDAQ or Intercontinental (NYSE:) Inc’s New York Stock Exchange, rather than wholesale brokers, such as Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial (NASDAQ:).

Nasdaq said it believes in markets that are “transparent, fair, efficient, competitive and inclusive” and that it looks forward to reviewing the SEC’s proposals.

“Any proposed changes must provide demonstrable solutions to real problems while avoiding unintended consequences that would harm US investors,” Citadel Securities said in a statement.

Companies that benefit from the status quo, such as the wholesalers and retail brokers they receive payments from, are likely to fight the SEC’s proposals, said Stephen Hall, Better Markets’ legal director and securities specialist.

“It’s imperative that the SEC resist industry pressure, carefully consider all stakeholder input, and finalize a set of rules that will really help investors over the long term get a better deal on Wall Street,” Hall said.

The SEC also voted to propose requiring brokers to provide more information about the quality of their clients’ trades, while increasing the number of firms that must file order fulfillment reports.

The proposed changes will be put up for public comment until at least March 31 before the regulator moves to finalize the rules, which will also be voted on.

The regulator also voted to expand disclosures about trading in company shares by insiders, such as executives and directors, who are paid equity-based compensation.

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Red Flags That Your Spouse Is Hiding Money (And What To Do About It)

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Marriage can be hard enough without one spouse hiding money from the other.

When financial infidelity occurs in the form of “hidden cash,” a marriage or a live-forever relationship can easily be ended.

The truth is About 30% of American couples suffer from financial infidelity. Other evidence shows that more than 75% of couples describe the hidden money situation as negative and common 10% of these scenarios end in divorce.



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US judge orders Norwegian Cruise Line to pay $110m for use of Cuba port By Reuters

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© Reuters. Norwegian American Airlines cruise ship Marina arrives in Havana Bay, Cuba on March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Meneghini/File/File Photo

Written by Brian Ellsworth

MIAMI (Reuters) – Norwegian Shipping Line (NYSE) has to pay $110 million in compensation for the use of a port confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960, a US judge said Friday, marking a significant milestone for Cuban Americans. Who are seeking reparations for the Cold War era. Assets confiscation.

The decision by US District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami follows her decision in March that use of the Havana Cruise Terminal constituted smuggling of forfeited property belonging to the plaintiff, Delaware-registered Havana Docks Corp.

The decision read: “The judgment is made in favor of Plaintiff Havana Docks Corporation and against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd.”

“The plaintiff was awarded $109,848,747.87 in damages,” it says, adding that the Norwegian must also pay an additional $3 million in legal fees and costs.

Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has sharply criticized the Helms-Burton Act, calling it an extraterritorial violation of international law.

Havana Docks also sued Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE: ), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) and MSC under the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens to sue over the use of property seized in Cuba after 1959.

The ruling could fuel more lawsuits by Cuban exiles pursuing claims, worth $2 billion, according to one estimate, over asset seizures under late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

It may also serve as a reminder to multinational companies of the complexities that can come with doing business in Cuba.

In 2016, US cruise ships began traveling to Cuba for the first time in decades after a détente negotiated by former President Barack Obama eased some provisions of a Cold War US embargo.

But the Trump administration in 2019 ordered a halt to all such cruises amid efforts to pressure Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Washington’s ideological foe.

The Trump administration has also allowed US citizens to sue third parties for using property seized by Cuban authorities, a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that every previous president has waived since the law was passed in 1996.

Havana Docs says Cuba, which has been under a US trade embargo for decades, has never compensated it for taking the drug.

The four cruise lines sued in 2019 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Bloom in March held the companies liable for damages under the Helms-Burton Act, also known as the Libertad Act.

According to the US-Cuban Economic and Trade Council, a nonprofit organization that provides information on relations between the two countries, 5,913 validated claims related to property seized in Cuba represent an estimated liability of nearly $2 billion.

Forty-four lawsuits have been filed under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the organization says.

“For the current plaintiffs of Cuban descent, (the decision) will give them a moment of relief,” said John Cavulich, the group’s president. “It will give them a moment to say ‘You can run but you can’t hide,'” Cavulich said.

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Is a Royal Caribbean or Carnival beverage package worth it?

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An all-inclusive beverage package that gives you access to beer, wine, liquor, bottled water, soda, specialty coffee, and even shakes/juices may cost more than your cruise fare.

This is especially true right now when many cruise cabins are being sold at discounted prices while the drinks package prices have gone up.

Deciding whether to purchase a drink package is a challenge because you have to estimate whether you will be drinking enough to cover the cost. Or, more importantly, whether you’d spend more if you decided not to purchase a drink package.



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