Growing evidence, number trails and a culture of greed support a connection between high frequency program trading and market manipulation and, by all appearances, the pumping up of stocks of troubled financial companies… – Ilene
TRIN appeared to be broken because we were getting huge swings in its values from moment to moment in the market. It would swing wildly, sometimes going far above 1.0 and sometimes far below. I pointed out that, from a purely mathematical vantage point, this could only occur if a disproportionate share of NYSE volume was occurring in one or a handful of stocks.
Further inquiry revealed that this was, indeed, the case: I found that, not only were the trading volumes of such stocks as C, AIG, FNM, and FRE elevated, as noted the by Big Picture blog, but that their composite volumes (their volumes traded across all exchanges) exceeded that of all other NYSE stock trading! Indeed, I discovered that the 20-day TRIN was at its lowest level since 2000 because volume was highly concentrated in rising stocks. This was not just unusually heavy volume; it was unusually heavy to the buy side.
Since this volume was directional--all of these stocks had made spectacular percentage gains--and because the highly unusual activity was unique to troubled financial firms (not stable companies such as GS and JPM), I surmised that something might be afoot: a systematic attempt to bolster the shares of taxpayer supported companies that--for political reasons--could not return to the bailout well. Why such an attempt? Perhaps to reimburse the largest shareholder of the institutions and position these companies to raise capital on their own. They certainly weren’t going to raise their own capital as languishing two-dollar zombie…
It is now generally understood that high frequency traders (HFTs) are dominating the equity market, generating as much as 70% of the volume.
HFTs are computerized trading programs that make money two ways, in general. They offer bids in such a way so as to make tiny amounts of money from per share liquidity rebates provided by the exchanges. Or they make tiny per share long or short profits. While this might sound like small change, HFTs collectively execute billions of shares a day, making it an extremely profitable business.
Why should institutional or retail investors care? After all, aren’t HFTs adding liquidity? That’s what they and the exchanges, who court their business, say.
There’s a lot to worry about.
1. HFTs provide low quality liquidity.
In the old days, when NYSE specialists or NASDAQ market makers added liquidity, they were required to maintain a fair and orderly market, and to post a quote that was part of the National Best Bid and Offer a minimum percentage of time. HFTs have no such requirements. They have no minimum shares to provide nor do they have a minimum quote time. And they could turn off their liquidity at any time. When an HFT computer spots a real order, the HFT is not likely to go against it and take the other side. The institution is then faced with a very tough stock to trade.
2. HFT volume can generate false trading signals.
This can cause other investors to buy at a higher price, or sell at a lower price, than they would otherwise. A spike in HFT volume can cause an institutional algorithm order based on a percentage of volume to be too aggressive. A spike can attract momentum investors, further exaggerating price moves. Seeing such a spike, options traders can start to build positions, which, in turn, can attract risk arbitrage traders who believe there’s potential news that could affect the stock.
Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading on Bloomberg TV, discussing several critical topics previously covered extensively on Zero Hedge: the real state of the economy, high frequency program trading and outright market manipulation.
To quote Joe:
"I have a feeling one day the door is gonna close, everyone is going to be running for the exits, there is going to be a major move in the market and everyone is going to wonder "what happened?"
The recent ascent of the US dollar and weakening of the Euro and Yen have far reaching consequences. For US companies that depend on foreign sales, the consequences can be harsh. Priceline's European assets get priced in US Dollars, making them worth less as the Euro falls. Further, the company's European customers have less money to spend. Sixty percent of Priceline's revenue is estimated to come from Europe.
Nearly two weeks ago, we were surprised to read on the Navy's website that one of America's prize aircraft carriers, CVN-74, John C. Stennis (whose crew is perhaps best known for the following awkward incident), as part of an operational training period in preparation for future deployments, just underwent not only its first ordnance onload since 2010, but, according to Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Jason Engleman, G-5 division's leading chief petty officer, "the biggest ordnance onload we've seen."
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Last week, the S&P 500 put an end to its streak of weekly losses, despite giving back some gains on Friday. Thursday provided the big catalyst, with the ECB’s announcement of its bold new monetary stimulus plan. Investors were cheered and soothed for the moment. And U.S. fundamentals still look strong. But with Greece trying to turn back time, with volatility elevated (and likely to continue as such), and with the technical situation still dicey, the near term outlook is still worrisome.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart...
It's time again for my weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Rounded to the penny, Regular dropped two cents and Premium three. Regular is at its lowest price since April 2009.
According to GasBuddy.com, Hawaii has the highest average price at $3.23. The highest continental average price is in California at $2.45. Missouri has the cheapest Regular at $1.78....
An interview with John Ehlers of Stock Spotter and Mesa Software
Ilene: John, in our last discussion about trading systems in general and yours in particular (Can trading be reduced to cycles, stresses and vibrations?) you mentioned Monte Carlo simulations and their use in measuring performance. Can you explain more about how you measure the performance of a trading system?
John: Let's start with comparing trading with gambling. The two have several things in common. In both ...
So as I was saying yesterday (Bitcoin: The Biggest Clown Show In History?), Bitcoin has several obstacles on the path to potential success as an alternative currency. But I forgot to mention hacking and theft at Bitcoin exchanges and other technical problems. This is related to the lack of government backing and the fact that the value of Bitcoins is based entirely on confidence.
Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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