1) The NYSE/ICE merger is getting close. I noted last week that the NYSE/ICE merger was close to finalization, and yesterday the NYSE Euronext announced that the Committee of Euronext Regulators have not objected to the merger.
There's only one real hurdle left: final approval by the regulatory bodies in the five countries that Euronext operates in (the UK, Portugal, France, Belgium, the Netherlands). It's not clear when that will happen, but the betting is it will be soon, within the next couple weeks.
2) After two strong IPOs yesterday (Burlington Stores and ReMax) and one fair IPO (Empire Realty), all brand names, we have another brand name pricing tonight: Sandwich shop Potbelly (PBPB) is pricing 7.5 million shares at $11-$12 tonight.
3) The SEC is getting serious about trade data. SEC chief Mary Jo White gave her first speech on market structure yesterday at the Securities Traders Association conference in Washington.
Market structure (which looks at how our trading systems operate, or in some cases don't operate) isn't normally a headline-grabbing topic, but Ms. White did make an important announcement: the SEC is going to open a new website that will focus on market structure to serve as a central location to share data and research.
Ms. White touted the recent acquisition of a trade-information system called Midas, which the SEC bought from Tradeworx last year. The system allows participants to see much more information about what is trading than is normally available.
Ms. White said the SEC would make the information available to the public, so that research could be done on how the markets are trading.
How much? Midas collects one billion trades a day. Ms. White says "The web site will allow users to explore key market metrics and trends based on aggregate analyses of tens of billions of MIDAS records over the last year."
That's a lot more information than we have ever had before. Based on my discussion with individuals around the project, it may not include data in real time, but it will likely include yesterday's data, and data going back many years.
What kind of data? Today most traders can only see price and volume. This information will likely be much more robust: you'll be able to see total number of new orders, and the total number of cancellations....all broken down by exchange.
This is a big advance and will help answer a lot of questions that, up to now, haven't been able to be easily answered. For example: how long orders last in the system, and the rate of order cancellations.
That's important: there have been allegations that some high frequency traders have abnormally high order cancellation rates; some have alleged that these could be used to manipulate other market participants' orders.
Bottom line: there will be more trading data available that will generate better information on what kind of trading is being done. What you won't be able to see, I am told, is who made the trades. That will remain anonymous to everyone except the SEC.
Still, this is a positive step forward, even if much of this will be used to support staff research papers on who is trading what.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani