Business: Time to Shop Around

The revival of the new-issue market has spread less cheer on Wall Street than might have been expected, because it comes while brokers and exchanges are struggling to adjust to far-reaching reforms imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The changes aim at forcing more competition among brokers and breaking the dominance of the New York Stock Exchange over the nation's securities trading, in part by totally abolishing the Big Board's ancient system of fixed minimum commissions on stock transactions.

Since the last vestiges of the fixed-commission system vanished by SEC order on May 1, a vicious rate-cutting war has erupted among...

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