The New York Stock Exchange said today it agreed to acquire its smaller rival, American Stock Exchange, for $260 million in stock. The deal, which will...

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NEW YORK — The New York Stock Exchange said today it agreed to acquire its smaller rival, American Stock Exchange, for $260 million in stock.

The deal, which will later include the proceeds from the sale of Amex’s Lower Manhattan headquarters a few blocks from the NYSE’s Wall Street home, gives NYSE Euronext a second U.S. license for an option exchange. It would make the NYSE the No. 3 U.S. options marketplace.

The NYSE has been looking to move further into the options business.

Word of the deal follows months of speculation over the fate of the Amex, which has struggled with lost market share, even among popular products such as exchange-traded funds, or ETFs. An ETF is a security that tracks an underlying benchmark much like an index mutual fund but that trades like a stock on an exchange.