After we reported about the aberrant Crude Oil Futures algo earlier, we asked out friends at Nanex to take a closer look. What they discovered is something far more disturbing than merely another iteration of the confused "fractal" algo seen previously trading Natural Gas.
In essence, the odd trading pattern in CL was not isolated, but worked in tandem and in seemingly perfect arbitrage with events in the key crude-related ETFs: USO, UCO and SCO.
In Nanex' words:
What appears to be a massive arbitrage algorithm involving the NYMEX Crude Oil futures (CL) and ETF symbols USO, UCO, and SCO, began executing at 13:35:43.850 and ended about 5 seconds later. The August futures contract (CL Q11) cleared out both sides of the depth of book 4 times.
At first sight, the oscillations in the CL future appear somewhat similar to the oscillations from another algorithm involving natural gas on June 8, 2011. However, on closer inspection, this is something entirely different.
And for all those who are convinced that it was not merely HFT that caused the May 6 flash crash, but a tandem sell-off between futures and correlated ETFs, here is the sobering conclusion as to why absolutely nothing has changed since the Flash Crash.
This is an event that regulators need to spend time taking apart and analyzing in detail. It will be well worth it, because there are similarities with algorithms that cause disturbances in the equity market via arbitrage between the S&P future and the equity ETFs SPY, IWM, QQQ, etc (one of those disturbances resulted in the "flash crash"). Someone has a distinct speed advantage and is taking full advantage of it.
In other words, the very same actors are still engaging in all the same manipulative activities that caused the biggest (if very short lived) market drop in history are still here, however they are now trading other products, which as is well-known the administration has a keen interest in seeing plunge in price.
For the conspiracy theorists out there, recall the events surrounding the market crash and the exigency to pass circumstantial legislation that both prevented an audit of the Fed, and to encourage Europe to bail out Greece for the first time. In other words, keeping with the conspiratorial bent, if the SEC does not pursue the perpetrator of this trading pattern, who very well may have been the same one to crash the stock market back in May of 2010, at least we will know why. Oh, and don't be surprised to see the equity flash crash transposed to other politically convenient products when so required (preferably before key political events that require the consumer to suddenly feel wealthy). Such as crude... and of course precious metals (which incidentally reminds us: has anyone found who caused that massive crash in silver on May 1 which marked the top in the silver market? We didn't think so).
Some visual evidence courtesy of Nanex:
Symbol USO, UNITED STATES OIL FUND LP: