Remember the flash crash?
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Craig Pirrong, Streetwise prof and futures trading expert, delves into the case of the Hounslow Spoofer, and like us, smells a rat.
For one thing, notes Pirrong, the official complaint doesn’t offer much in the way of detail on the execution strategy. It’s all very well alleging that Sarao spoofed the market with bogus orders, but none of this explains how he actually made money from the strategy. Especially given that the numbers presented don’t seem to add up. Read more
Picture the scene in the London borough of Hounslow on Tuesday lunchtime, as police moved in to arrest one Navinder Singh Sarao, holed up in a humble
end-of-terrace post-war semi.
There’ll have been prior discussion of the possible need for a special forces sniper overwatch. Someone will have remarked on the security implications of having a man like this, with a Muslim-sounding name, apparently living so close to one of the world’s major transportation hubs, airliners passing just a few hundred feet overhead every 90 seconds or so on their way to Heathrow.
High-speed trading critics are abuzz this morning as an apparent mini-flash crash took place in shares of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. The car rental company fell as much as five per cent in matter of a minutes before recovering. Read more
FT Alphaville is reading Robert Harris’ The Fear Index at the moment, and would like to take this opportunity to recommend it as required reading for anyone who enjoys a good Jason Bourne style adventure, especially when set in the context of modern market meltdowns.
Though, it’s actually come to inspire the plot to our very own action-packed markets adventure, one we’re calling “Dark inventory: The ultimate financial frontier.” Read more
US regulators investigating last year’s ‘flash crash’ and other market swings have sent subpoenas to firms that do high-frequency trading, the Wall Street Journal reports. In high-frequency trading, companies use computer algorithms to identify opportunities which can allow them to profit through rapid-fire trades often measured in milliseconds. Some market participants believe these trading practices may have contributed to the May 6, 2010 flash crash, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge 700 points in minutes. According to the WSJ, a report last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on the flash crash said, amid other factors, these traders’ moves helped fuel the day’s rapid selloff. The WSJ says that at least some of the subpoenas have been sent since the start of the summer, though it isn’t known whether the subpoenas will result in any enforcement actions, since a subpoena doesn’t necessarily reflect a suspicion of wrongdoing. For more on how HFT traders are impacting the markets see FT Alphaville.
With the US debt ceiling debacle still in full play, anyone scouting for stress signals is very much tuned into developments in the US repo market.
Sharp thoughts on Friday from Andrew Haldane, executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England, on the changing topology of the market — including the rise of high-frequency trading.
Haldane — champion of the “we may have become too impatient” philosophy — wonders in a speech to the International Economic Association in Beijing, about a number of issues connected to the above. Read more
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has for the first time revealed that almost 95 per cent of US crude oil futures volume is generated by day trading or betting on arcane price relationships, the FT reports, suggesting long-term bets on whether prices will rise or fall have little effect on energy price volatility. The US regulator released data showing that only 5.5 per cent of crude trading volume on the New York Mercantile Exchange involved net changes in large traders’ stance on price direction, with similar patterns in other commodities and in financial futures markets. The day traders making up the balance include high frequency traders. The new volume data from the CFTC’s trader reporting system followed a review of the “flash crash” of May 6 2010, when stock and other markets momentarily plummeted.
Themis Trading — ever-alert for structural weaknesses in markets — have a new paper.
It’s about ‘phantom indices’ — or the idea that widely-followed indices such as the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Nasdaq 100 don’t actually track all of the shares traded intraday. The discrepancy, Themis says, stems from the indices being calculated using only primary market data, in a world where a significant amount of trading has now moved off into non-primary spheres. Read more
Introducing ‘the splash crash’.
Like the flash crash but worse because it involves the “flash” spreading cross-asset class to everything from forex to commodities. Read more
Nasdaq OMX and NYSE cancelled trades in 10 exchange-traded funds after their prices plummeted in early trading on Thursday, raising questions about measures brought in after last year’s ‘flash crash’ to curb sudden price falls, the FT reports. Prices in 10 of 15 Focus Morningstar ETFs launched on Wednesday dropped by as much as 98 per cent after a human processing error at Knight Capital Americas, a market maker for the ETFs. While exchanges introduced trading curbs after the flash crash, the Focus ETFs were not included because they launched after these initial measures were rolled out.
Nasdaq OMX and NYSE cancelled trades in 10 exchange-traded funds after their prices plummeted in early trading on Thursday, raising doubts about safeguards put in place against sharp market swings after last year’s “flash crash”, reports the FT. The exchanges cancelled certain trades that occurred in 10 of 15 Focus Morningstar ETFs that launched on Wednesday, said a spokesman for Scottrade, the ETFs’ sponsor. The trades occurred early in the session when prices dropped by as much as 98% after a human processing error at Knight Capital Americas, a market maker for the ETFs. The net asset values of the ETFs and the value of the underlying securities and shareholders were not affected, Scottrade said. Nasdaq said it cancelled trades in FocusShares ETFs executed between 9:54am and 9:56am that were more than 10% away from the day’s trade before the erroneous order or the previous close if no trades occurred prior.
In the quest to find the culprit in the May 6 ‘flash crash,’ regulators have pointed the finger at a little-known mutual fund based in a nondescript office park outside Kansas City, reports the WSJ. But the fund in question—the $27bn Asset Strategy Fund — is no average mutual fund, according to the paper. Run by Waddell & Reed Financial Inc., the fund is bigger than most hedge funds and, by some measures, acts like one. It is part of a rapidly growing breed of US mutual funds that can trade in almost anything they want, including hedging during times of trouble.
A recent report emphasising the role of a single trade in causing the May 6 stock market flash crash may have ignored the broader underlying causes behind volatility in the market, the WSJ reports. Market participants want more focus on data-feed issues, stub quote abuse, and algorithmic trading, the Journal adds. They might do better to focus on continued signs of mini flash crashes in the market — Monday’s mystery coming courtesy of a fast sudden drop in Century Aluminium, FT Alphaville notes — while observing that market-making desks as one broad factor in the market had little to do with May’s events.
High-frequency trading firms that have come to dominate the US equity markets may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief after a report by regulators on the causes of May’s “flash crash” that temporarily derailed trading. The SEC’s report found that a large order by a traditional investor was the trigger for the wild market swings, and not a high-speed trading firm. The danger for trading firms, says the FT, is that it may be premature to celebrate, as regulators are still deciding how to respond and restore confidence to US stock trading.
We previously reported the findings of Nanex, which had attributed the crash in large part to quote-stuffing, a high-frequency trading strategy in which a massive number of buy and sell orders flood the market before immediately being canceled. High-frequency traders can then profit from the delays caused by the cancellations. Read more
The anticipated SEC report on the May 6 flash crash is out. Here’s an excerpt:
At 2:32 p.m., against this backdrop of unusually high volatility and thinning liquidity, a large fundamental5 trader (a mutual fund complex) initiated a sell program to sell a total of 75,000 E- Mini contracts (valued at approximately $4.1 billion) as a hedge to an existing equity position. Read more