Stock Manipulation Probe Launched After Prices Spike

Bloomberg – U.S. regulators are investigating whether investors manipulated end-of-day stock prices to avoid being forced by their brokers to sell holdings.

These gaps, which caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to swing as much as 104 points this month in the final minute of trading, suggest investment firms faced with client redemptions and plunging markets may be gaming the closing-auction system. The discrepancies spurred the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which oversees 5,000 brokerages, to look for evidence that investors are improperly swaying prices.

General Electric Co., McDonald’s Corp. and the 28 other Dow companies swung 0.6 percent on average at the close the last two weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s almost eight times greater than the average three months ago. Because of the swings, the New York Stock Exchange plans to distribute information on the closing auction more often to help mitigate volatility.

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