“High Frequency Trading ‘Crop Circle’ Crime Scene”

Posted on Aug 01, 2010 in Economic News

Source: ZeroHedge

Hayden’s Note:

HFT stands for ‘High Frequency Trading’ where computers can send thousands of requests or data packets in split seconds to trade, buy and sell.  They can also, as this article points out very clearly, “check” to see what the market will do if they proceeded with a certain trade because we’re talking split seconds. It can then decide to go ahead with the sale/buy or pull out before actually committing to the deal.  This is manipulation of the market.  Hit the search bar or check the end of this article for related articles on HFT.

Recently we posted a required reading analysis by Nanex in which the market trading analytics firm presented irrefutable evidence of quote stuffing by HFT algorithms in tens of stocks, in which thousands of cancelled quotes would reappear each second with a definitive periodicity and regularity, around the time of the May 6 flash crash.

Aside from the fact that it is illegal to indicate a quote without a trade intent, this form of quote stuffing is in fact manipulative when conducted by HFT repeaters in specific “shapes” as it actually moves the NBBO actively higher or lower, in cases pushing the bid/offer range up to 10% higher without even one trade ever having occurred, simply by masking a big block order which other algos interpret as bid interest and pull all offers progressively or step function higher (or vice versa, although we have rarely if ever seen the walking down of a stock over the past 18 months). It is as if the HFT lobby has been given the green light by the powers that be that it is safe to activate merely the bid-size quote stuffing algorithms, and not worry: the fact that the market is so one sided in its quote stuffing patterns is sufficient reason to worry of a concerted effort to push stocks higher, initiated from the very top, and effected by not only the Primary Dealer community but by the end-market “liquidity providers.” Today, courtesy of Nanex we demonstrate that this type of illegal stock manipulation continues rampant to this very day, and the SEC still fails acknowledge that it is precisely the HFT market participants that persist in destabilizing stock prices, which have given up responding to fundamentals and merely move up or down based on quote stuffing interventions by those who plead innocence and claim to only be providing liquidity. Well take a look at the millions in fake, and thus illegal, bids demonstrated below and tell us just how any of this manipulation is “providing liquidity” – the second the patterns break, the algos responsible for the churn pattern disappear, thus eliminating numerous levels of so called bid liquidity below the NBBO: break enough patterns and you have another flash crash as the market once again goes bidless.

So while the SEC continues to pander merely to the interests of the market manipulation lobby, and is now doing it in more style than ever by refusing to answer to FOIA requests going forward, here is Nanex with yet more evidence that we no longer have a market, but merely a daily recurring crime scene.

In our original Flash Crash Analysis report, we dedicated a section to an observed phenomena we termed “Quote Stuffing“, in which bursts of quotes (at very high rates) with extremely unusual characteristics were observed.

As we continue to monitor the markets for evidence of Quote Stuffing and Strange Sequences (Crop Circles), we find that there are dozens if not hundreds of examples to choose from on any given day. As such, this page will be updated often with charts demonstrating this activity.

The common theme with the charts shown on this page is they are obviously all generated in code and are algorithmic. Some demonstrate bizarre price or size cycling, some demonstrate large burst of quotes in extremely short time frames and some will demonstrate both. In most cases these sequences are from a single exchange with no other exchange quoting in the same time frame.

And here, for your viewing pleasure, are the illegal market manipulative churn patterns conducted exclusively by various HFT algos:

07-29-10
BATS “Flag Repeater”. 15,000 quotes in 11 seconds, dropping the ASK price 1 penny each quote from $9.36 to $8.58 and back up again.

07-29-10
“The Crown”. While not a large number of quotes, this NASDAQ/BATS Bidsize sequence was just too unusual to bypass.

07-28-10
BATS “Batsicles”. BATS price cycling through a large price range, each intermittent with a stub quote, drop it down and start over.


07-27-10
NASDAQ “Blotter”. One of the more unusual repeating Asksize cycles.

07-23-10
BATS “Stubby Triangles”. Drop the quote from a valid price to 0.001 and then back up to a lower price level. When the new price level hits 0.001 as well, do it all over again at approx. 380 times a second.

07-23-10
NASDAQ “Flutter”. 4000 quotes in 2 seconds, alternating the bid price/size in 3 increments and effecting the Best Bid along the way.

07-23-10
BATS “Periscopes”. 8000 quotes in 3 seconds, alternating the bid price each quote. Pop the size up 1 every second or so.

07-22-10
NASDAQ “Double Dip”. Symbol SH. 10,000 Quotes in 4 seconds, each affecting the Best Bid.

07-19-10
NASDAQ “Racing Stripe”. Symbol WYNN. 2000 Quotes in one second, each affecting the Best Ask.

07-19-10
PACIFIC “Puzzle Pieces”. Symbol IIC.

07-14-10
NASDAQ “Blue Bandsaw”. Symbol SHG. (760 quotes in 1 second, taken from a total sampling of 10,000 quotes in 12 seconds)

07-13-10
BATS “60-Step”. Symbol SAH. Take sixty steps up (a penny at a time) and one step down (0.60), reset and do it all over again (at approx. 700 times per second).

07-12-10
NASDAQ “Ask Mountain”. Symbol IAU. Over 56,000 quotes in 10 seconds, all with same Ask Price and the Ask Size increasing or decreasing by 1 (to almost 40,000!).

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