Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SEC to seek comment on stock market circuit breaker rules

The SEC staff is working with the markets to consider recalibrating market-wide circuit breakers currently on the books — none of which were triggered on May 6 when the DOW dropped 1000 points in minutes. These circuit breakers apply across all equity trading venues and the futures markets.

The SEC is seeking comment on stock-by-stock circuit breaker proposed rules.

The markets are proposing these rules in consultation with FINRA and staff of the SEC to provide for uniform market-wide standards for individual securities in the S&P 500® Index that experience a rapid price movement.

“We continue to believe that the market disruption of May 6 was exacerbated by disparate trading rules and conventions across the exchanges,” said Chairman Schapiro. “As such, I believe it is important that all the exchanges quickly reached consensus on a set of uniform circuit breakers that would be triggered when needed. Today’s filings reflect that consensus. I am pleased by the constructive cooperation of the exchanges and FINRA as evidenced by their rapid response.”

Under the proposed rules, which are subject to Commission approval following the completion of the comment period, trading in a stock would pause across U.S. equity markets for a five-minute period in the event that the stock experiences a 10 percent change in price over the preceding five minutes. The pause would give the markets the opportunity to attract new trading interest in an affected stock, establish a reasonable market price, and resume trading in a fair and orderly fashion. Initially, these new rules would be in effect on a pilot basis through Dec. 10, 2010.

The markets will use the pilot period to make appropriate adjustments to the parameters or operation of the circuit breaker as warranted based on their experience, and to expand the scope to securities beyond the S&P 500 (including ETFs) as soon as practicable.

“I believe that circuit breakers for individual securities across the exchanges would help to limit significant volatility. They would also increase market transparency, bolster investor protection, and bring uniformity to decisions regarding trading halts in individual securities,” said Chairman Schapiro.

During the pilot period, Chairman Schapiro has asked the SEC staff to consider ways to address the risks of market orders and their potential to contribute to sudden price moves, as well as to consider steps to deter or prohibit the use by market makers of “stub” quotes, which are not intended to indicate actual trading interest. The staff will study the impact of other trading protocols at the exchanges, including the use of trading pauses and self-help rules. The SEC staff also will continue to work with the exchanges and FINRA to improve the process for breaking erroneous trades, by assuring speed and consistency across markets.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Finance

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