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Hedge Fund Lawyers: SEC Proposes Stock-by-Stock Circuit Breaker Rule

New York (Hedgeco.net)  – The SEC is filing proposed rules under which they would pause trading in certain individual stocks if the price moves 10% or more in a five-minute period, according to hedge fund law firm Pillsbury Investment Funds.

In consultation with FINRA, the SEC wants to set uniform market-wide standards for individual securities in the S&P 500 Index that experience a rapid price movement, the attorneys said.

These proposed rules reflect a consensus that was achieved among the exchanges and FINRA after SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro convened a meeting of exchange leaders and FINRA at the SEC early last week. That meeting took place after the market dropped significantly and after approximately 30 S&P 500 Index stocks fell at least 10 percent in a five-minute period.

“The market disruption of May 6 was exacerbated by disparate trading rules and conventions across the exchanges, and that it is important that all the exchanges quickly reach a consensus on a set of uniform circuit breakers that would be triggered when needed.” Chairman Schapiro said.

The SEC intends to promptly publish the proposed rules for a 10-day public comment period, and determine whether to approve them shortly thereafter.

Under the proposed rules, which are subject to SEC 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.

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.

“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. These circuit breakers apply across all equity trading venues and the futures markets,” the Pillsbury Investment Funds attorneys concluded.

Editing by Alex Akesson
For HedgeCo.net
alex@hedgeco.net
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