Shortly after 1amET this morning, someone with no apparent fiduciary duty to their client's for best execution or any apparent trade allocation expertise decided it was time to dump 1500 contracts into an entirely illiquid gold futures market. The 150,000 ounce notional sell order ($184.5 million), captured graphically by Nanex, sent the price down $10 instaneously, tripped the exchange's circuit breakers and halted the market's trading for 20 seconds (once again). This is now the 4th market halt in the past 3 months (and this time on no news whatsoever), as the manipulative monkey-hammerings from who knows whom (BIS?) is becoming increasingly obvious.
Long before Edward Snowden's whistleblowing revelations hit the world and the Obama administration's approval ratings like a ton of bricks, we ran a story in March 2012 which exposed the NSA's unprecedented domestic espionage project, codenamed Stellar Wind, and specifically the $1.4+ billion data center spy facility located in Bluffdale, Utah, which spans more than one million square feet, uses 65 megawatts of energy (enough to power a city of more than 20,000), and can store exabytes or even zettabytes of data (a zettabyte is 100 million times larger than all the printed material in the Library of Congress), consisting of every single electronic communication in the world, whether captured with a warrant or not. Yet despite all signs to the contrary, Uber-general Keith Alexander and his spy army are only human, and as the WSJ reports, the NSA's Bluffdale data center - whose interior may not be modeled for the bridge of the Starship Enterprise - has been hobbled by chronic electrical surges as a result of at least 10 electrical meltdowns in the past 13 months.
News yesterday that Radioshack was planning to seek new debt financing in order to give suppliers more confidence - which in itself is kind of ironic that suppliers would find an even-more-levered company a better credit risk - sent the stock spiking higher by 10% in mere seconds as the machines took the headline and ran with it. Sanity was restored moments later as the stock hit the exchange limits and was instantly reverted back to unchanged. While the firm faces its own fireworks over employees punching customers "for being sarcastic," the stunning charts below show the real fireworks that the machines started...
As a quick reminder, the old marketwide circuit-breaker system where a drop of over 2,400 points in the DJIA was needed to close the market after 2 pm no longer exists. Instead, the SEC revised its market-wide circuit breakers as follows...
Gross: What hath Kuroda wrought? JGB yields a bigger influence on Treasuries than tapering potential.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 28, 2013
Just over 4 hours ago we discussed the stunning collapse in 10Y Japanese bond yields. Since then - things have taken a very dramatic turn for the worse for bonds. 10Y JGB yields have exploded higher. The move from 32bps to 65bps triggered circuit breakers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in JGB Futures trading as JGB prices plunged by their largest amount since September 2002. We can only imagine there is liquidations galore occurring given the massive outsize moves we are seeing in Japanese bonds, stocks, FX, swaps, and CDS. Did the BoJ just lose control?
According to the updated NYSE Q2 circuit breaker levels, it will take a 4,350 point drop in the NYSE for an all day trading halt. Of course, if the DJIA tumbles by 30% intraday, whether to close the several hundred shares trading on the NYSE will be the last thing on people's minds.
Here a three views that are outside the consensus.
A few days ago, Credit Suisse did something profoundly unexpected: its Trading Strategy team led by Jonathan Tse released a report titled "High Frequency Trading - Measurement, Detection and Response" in which the firm - one of the biggest flow and prop traders by equity volume in both light and dark venues - admitted what Zero Hedge has been alleging for years (and has gotten sick and tired of preaching), and which the regulators have been unable to grasp and comprehend: that high frequency trading is a predatory system which abuses market structure and topology, which virtually constantly engages in such abusive trading practices as the Nanex-branded quote stuffing, as well as layering, spoofing, order book fading, and, last but not least, momentum ignition. While we we cover the full report in the next few days and all its SEC-humiliating implications, it is the last aspect that we wish to focus on because while all the prior ones have been extensively covered on these pages in the past, it is the phenomenon of momentum ignition that goes straight at the dark beating heart of today's zombie markets: momentum, momentum, and more momentum, in which nothing but stop hunts and even more momentum, define the "fair value" of any risk asset - i.e., reflexivity at its absolute worst (in addition to Fed intervention of course), where value is implied by technicals and trading patterns, and where algos buy simply because other algos are buying. Behold robotic stop hunts: HFT-facilitated "Momentum Ignition."
The EU assembly just voted affirmatively to impose a spate of rules to control 'high-frequency-trading that, as the WSJ reports, was advanced by Germany following their concerns that speedy traders have brought instability to markets. It is somehow reassuring that three-years after we first brought HFT to the mainstream's agenda, at least one nation is taking it seriously, doing something about it, instead of being filibustered into the 'liquidity-providing' meme. The rules will initially require registration, collect fees on excessive use of HFT methods, and install circuit breakers with the goals to "limit the risks associated with high-frequency trading" per a senior German FinMin; but the more stringent rules to come will have the greatest impact as they intend to include requirements for orders to rest on the exchange book for at least half-a-second, and potentially order-to-trade ratio caps. Not surprisingly, the HFTs believe a "one-size-fits-all approach would be very harmful." Indeed - to their profits.
- Italy Says It Won't Seek Aid (WSJ)... and neither will Spain, so no OMT activation, ever. So why buy bonds again?
- European Lenders Keep Ties to Iran (WSJ)
- Fink Belies Being Boring Telling Customers to Buy Stocks (Bloomberg)
- Dutch Voters Buck Euro Debt Crisis to Re-Elect Rutte as Premier (Bloomberg)
- China's Xi cited in state media as health rumors fly (Reuters)
- China vs Japan: Tokyo must come back 'from the brink' (China Daily)
- Manhattan Apartment Vacancy Rate Climbs After Rents Reach Record (Bloomberg)
- Well-to-do get mortgage help from Uncle Sam (Reuters)
- Princeton Endowment Expected to Rise Less Than 5% in Year (Bloomberg)
- Protesters Encircle U.S. Embassy in Yemen (WSJ)
- US groups step up sales of non-core units (FT)
In the aftermath of Knight's crushing algo-driven error and subsequent cash loss, which may well prove terminal for the business - an artifact of a broken market we have been warning and writing about since 2009 - we present some informative insights into the various eras of Wall Street trading errors courtesy of that grizzled trading veteran, the Chairman of the Fermentation Committee, Art Cashin.
We all know something went horribly wrong in various NYSE-traded stocks today between 9:30 am and 10:15 am. So wrong in fact that the NYSE had to step in and cancel numerous trades in 6 symbols. However it did not DK millions of other trades in 134 other symbols, the vast majority of which we assume traded errantly due to the market making of Knight Capital (as admitted by the company), which today saw its biggest drop ever since going public on volume about 60 times greater than its average. We also all know that one should buy low and sell high. At least that is what human traders are taught, and that is what they attempt. Because if one consistently does the opposite, one will simply run out of money. Well, the opposite is precisely what the berserk algo in Knight's Market Making group may have done if Nanex, which has done a forensic analysis of one of the trades in question, is correct. In other words, instead of at least attempting to provide liquidity via limit trades, Knight's algorithm acted as a market order... gone horribly wrong. As the third chart below shows what the algo did with furious repetition and steadfast consistency was to buy at the offer, and sell at the bid, in other words buy high and sell low. Over and over and over and over. As Nanex laconically notes, "In the case of EXC, that means losing about 15 cents on every pair of trades. Do that 40 times a second, 2400 times a minute, and you now have a system that's very efficient at burning money." Which also means that by not DK'ing several hundred million prints, the NYSE may have just thrown Knight under the bus, because the market maker is suddenly on the hook for tens if not hundreds of millions in inverse market making profits.
Back in October 19, 1988, in response to Black Monday from a year earlier (the SEC is not known for fast turnaround times) a little known SEC rule came into effect, known as Rule 80B, and somewhat better known as "Trading Halts Due to Extraordinary Market Volatility" which set trigger thresholds for market wide circuit breakers - think a wholesale temporary market shutdown. According to Rule 80B (as revised in 1998), the trigger levels for a market-wide trading halt were set at 10%, 20% and 30% of the DJIA. Needless to say, a 30% drop in the market in our day and age when the bulk of US wealth is concentrated in the stock market, would be a shot straight to the heart of the entire capitalist system. Which is why the smallest gating threshold is and has always been the key.However, despite the revision, as anyone who traded stocks on that fateful day in May knows, the market-wide circuit breakers were completely ineffective and unused during the HFT-induced and ETF-facilitated flash crash of May 6, 2010. In turn, the SEC's flash crash response was to implement individual stock-level circuit breakers which however, instead of restoring confidence in the market, have become the butt of daily jokes involving freaked out algos. This was merely the most recent indication of how horribly the SEC's attempts to "regulate" a market it no longer has any grasp or understanding of, backfire on it. However, even that may pale in comparison to just how badly the SEC may have blundered yesterday afternoon, when it proposed yet another revision to its market-wide halt rule. And once again, instead of making traders and investors more comfortable that the SEC is capable and in control, the questions have already come pouring in: is the SEC preparing for another massive market crash?