dark pools

dark pools

Gold Near 4-Month Highs As FOMC Warning Sparks Buying Scramble In Stocks

Stocks trod water for most of the day until the Fed said they would take the punhbowl away and that markets were complacent and that triggered buying in stocks, bonds, and gold. VIX was the catalyst (just as we saw at the actual FOMC meeting) and we would not be shocked to see a major volume dump after-hours in VXX (as dark pools unload their manipulations). The Dow ripped higher, desperate to reach 17,000 and prove that 'wealth' was back - but failed (although it did manage to get back to unch from the payrolls). Treasury yields limped higher, spiked higher on FOMC then dumped to the low yields of the day by the close (0-1bps lower on the day). Precious metals leaked lower into FOMC but spiked notably after with gold closing near 4-month highs. Oil was sliding into the minutes and did not bounce to close at its lowest in 2 months. VIX did its best to remind everyone that when the FOMC speaks, it's always good market news.

What Has Driven The VIX Higher In The Past?

A nervous peace prevails in the financial markets as central banks sit on their throne, fingers at the ready on the liquidity switch. As UBS' Bhanu Baweja notes, most volatility buyers have been 'rolled' into their graves. As they have explicitly targeted risk premia in addition to rates, a lot more hangs on the monarchs of monetary policy today than it has in previous cycles. While growth and inflation are both low, they are not necessarily uncertain; and although every crisis is different, certain patterns tend to repeat and certain events have reliably driven volatility higher.

Why An End To Dark Pools Would Be A Clear Nightmare For The Fed

Be careful what you wish for. As the Fed imbibes a sense of confidence in its ability to manage any bumps in the road on its perpetual bubble-blowing mission through the use of macro-prudential policies (big words that truly mean nothing) as stock valuations surge and the repo market is experiencing severe problems; it can always point to VIX as an indicator that all is well in the world and no real risk exists. The problem is - the world is beginning to wake up to the 'odd' micro-structure of the US equity markets and how 'dark pools' are beginning to dominate trading volume. As Barclays faces major legal problems over its alleged dark pool lies, lies, and more lies, the Fed must be growing concerned... as the following chart shows JPMorgan indicates there is evidence of an inverse relationship between equity volatility and the share of off-exchange trading.

The Impact Of The World Cup On Stock Markets, In One Chart

What "harsh weather", aka completely unpredictable cold snaps and snow during the winter were to Q1 US GDP, which somehow cratered from an expected 2.5% increase to a -2.9% collapse (a $200 billion negative swing in the US economy due to weather, let that sink in for a second), the Brazil world cup may be to the stock market. At least that is the following chart from Bloomberg, highlighting the "World Cup Syndrome" shows.

Caught Rigging Gold And Dark Pools, Barclays Begs To At Least Keep FX Manipulation

2014 has not been kind to Barclays: first, the UK bank proved countless goldbugs right when it was first caught rigging the gold market (the first documented case, not the last) and a few short weeks later, the New York Attorney General crucified the bank for misleading its Dark Pool clients, and letting their order flow be, quite lucratively, front run by "aggressive" predatory algos - something it explicitly had stated it won't allow. So with one after another revenue stream crashing before its eyes, what is the Chairman of the scrambling bank to do? Why beg to at least keep the FX manipulation going. What follows is not from The Onion.

VIX-Manipulating HFT Algo Is Booted From Dark Pool, Exposed For Whole World To See

VIX was monkey-hammered lower once again today, lifting stocks vertically to Russell 2000 record highs and The Dow within a point of 17,000. The question is who (or what) is doing it. Nanex seems to have found out who... It appears the un-visible hand of VIX manipulation (that we have shown previously) has been forced into the open public markets as Barclays goes dark. Simply put, massive bursts of 1-lot TVIX orders flood and delay the markets enabling HFTs to manipulate the tail that inevitably wags the market (via VXX, SPX options hedges and leverage) and now that the dark pools are disappearing, we see it all in real-time.

Frontrunning: June 26

  • Minorities Seen Driving U.S. Household Growth (Reuters)
  • GM prepares to recall some Cruze sedans with Takata air bags (Reuters)
  • PBOC Halts Repos as China Money Rate Climbs to Seven-Week High (BBG)
  • Ukraine Optimism Wavers on Peace as Cease-Fire Winds Down (BBG)
  • Economic Rebound Seen Undercut by Weak Pay as Vote Winner (BBG)
  • Cracks Open in Dark Pool Defense With Barclays Lawsuit (BBG)
  • The Survivor: How Eric Holder outlasted his (many) critics (Politico)
  • IBM, Lenovo Tackle Security Worries on Server Deal (WSJ)
  • Militants take Iraqi gas field town, president calls parliament session (Reuters)
  • Carney Surprises Confounding Markets as BOE Manages Guidance (BBG)

Futures Meander Ahead Of Today's Surge On Bad Economic News

Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.

How Barclays Got Caught Red-Handed With "Pernicious HFT Fraud"

First it was gold, now it is HFT - poor Barclays just can't get away with any market rigging crime these days: "In sum, Barclays’ courting of high frequency traders, and its willingness to falsify the extent of high frequency trading activity in its dark pool, was contrary to Barclays’ representations to clients that Barclays operated with “transparency” and provided a safe venue in which to trade. As described by one former senior Barclays Director:  “there was a lot going on in the dark pool that was not in the best interests of clients. The practice of almost ensuring that every counterparty would be a high frequency firm, it seems to me that that wouldn’t be in the best interest of their clients . . . It’s almost like they are building a car and saying it has an airbag and there is no airbag or brakes.”

NY AG Sues Barclays For HFT Fraud - Live Feed

In what appears to be the first real action post-Flash Boys, NY AG Eric Schneiderman will announce at 4pm ET that Barclays will be sued over fraud allegations related to its Dark Pool's preferential treatment of high-frequency traders. As Bloomberg notes, Barclays runs one of the market's largest dark pools. This comes 2 months after the NY AG sent requests for information to various major HFT shops. It seems, just as we noted here, that a potential scapegoat is being primed 'just in case' this 'market' can't withstand the Fed's pullback.

Frontrunning: June 13

  • Tea Party struggles to repeat Cantor-style shock in Tennessee (Reuters)
  • Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq (WSJ)
  • Oil Rallies as Militant Advance in Iraq Threatens Crude (BBG)
  • Gold Set for First Back-to-Back Weekly Gain Since April (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Get Stung by Slow Markets (WSJ)
  • Sterling nears 5-year high after Carney speech (FT)
  • Britain Warns Boom in Real-Estate Prices Threatens Economy (WSJ)
  • East Europe Leaders Urge EU Unity to Counter Russia (BBG)
  • Formula One Said to Be Valued at $8 Billion as Malone Seeks Stake (BBG)
  • Dumb and dumber: Abe Plans Company Tax Cut in 2015 as Kuroda Warns on Budget (BBG)

Sorry, You're Not Allowed: Capital Segregation and Rising Inequality

If capital is not treated equally, political equality is an illusion, for capital buys political influence and power. Capital that can buy political power gains political protection of its extraordinary privileges to control rentier income streams, income which furthers its political power.

Frontrunning: June 10

  • Ukraine, Russia Fail to Reach Deal in Natural-Gas Talks (WSJ)
  • Boko Haram Kidnaps More Girls in Nigeria (WSJ)
  • Déjà vu: echoes of pre-crisis world mount (FT)
  • Money market rates hit new low as ECB moves gain traction (Reuters)
  • 'Dark Pools' Face New SEC Probe (WSJ)
  • Buffett Ready to Double $15 Billion Solar, Wind Bet (BBG)
  • White House-Congress rift over Bergdahl deal deepens (Reuters)
  • Taxpayers Face Big Medicare Tab for Unusual Doctor Billings (WSJ)
  • Lean Retirement Faces U.S. Generation X as Wealth Trails (BBG)
  • Employers’ skills gap claim does not show up in US wage data (FT)
  • He is holding out for the Zuckerberg overbid: Donald Sterling says LA Clippers not for sale (WSJ)

Small Caps Surge To Best Week In 2014

The US Dollar, gold, and oil closed the week unchanged... Treasury yields rose 6-8bps on the week... and the Russell 2000 had its best week in 2014... Sure, why not? VIX was crushed back to a 10-handle as managers lifted hedges and the Tepper-induced short-squeeze from yesterday followed through (+2.5% against a 1% rise in the S&P). The Dow and S&P 500 both closed at record highs (notably rich to the Fed balance sheet). Volume was 20% below average (and that was a payrolls day!). Copper tumbled over 2% - its worst week in 3 months as China's warehouse probe continues.  VIX closed at its lowest close since Feb 2007 (and once again the strange shadowy figure of massive after-0hours volume spikes in VXX appeared).