Oops, Again: Bargain Basement Edition

You know those technical issues that the stock exchanges were having a little while back? They're still here.
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You know those technicalissues that the stock exchanges were having a little while back? They're still here.

Some premarket transactions in nine big-name stocks were canceled Thursday morning, in the latest example of the trading glitches that have plagued markets this year…

The bad trades came from a securities firm that was sending transactions based on faulty data, said people familiar with the problems. It wasn't clear where the bad data originated.

Just a little glitch, right? Not exactly.

For example, in the seconds before 9:30, several bursts of Citigroup trades pulled the stock's price down from about $36 to as low as $20.10, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of FactSet data. Most of the 49 Citigroup transactions that were later canceled were 100-share orders at $29.99.

The same period saw 101 canceled trades in Hewlett-Packard's stock, which briefly jerked the price from $14.55 to as low as $3.06. In all, the exchange canceled 402 trades involving 141,629 shares, according to data provider Nanex.

The bad numbers hit only the Nasdaq. The Big Board, BATS and Direct Edge said they weren't affected. Almost enough to make on pine for the buttonwood tree. But not quite.

Nasdaq Cancels Trades Over a Firm's Bad Data [WSJ]
Nasdaq Cancels Some Trades in Goldman, Sprint After Error [Bloomberg]
Nasdaq reschedules botched WhiteHorse IPO [Reuters]

Related

Exchange Follies: Consolidated Tape Edition

Just weeks after telling Congress that doing their jobs has become too damned hard, the stock exchanges are providing more evidence. This time, the problem is the consolidated tape, which provides trade data. Seems it went out for about an hour at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, making it tough to see in anyone had traded in 165 unimportant securities like State Street Corp. stock. And NYSE's snafu follows a consolidated tape screw-up at Nasdaq last week; while NYSE's server error only messed with some of its stocks, Nasdaq's consolidated tape feed went totally blank on Thursday.

Bookie Confessional, Early Baseball Edition

Mike is my best baseball client. He bets three or four grand a night, spread out over the whole card. He can't possibly win over time. Sadly, such golden geese occasionally shit on the lawn. That's what Mike did Friday, when he called and asked me to give him another bookie's number. Nobody in particular—just anybody's. He wanted a second place to bet. Basically he was sitting at his regular table and asking the Maitre d' where ELSE he should go to dinner. I told him to call me back Saturday. Well, I fumed awhile, then it came to me. Mike had rarely talked to Faithful Assistant. I summoned Faithful Assistant and told him his dreams were about to come true: he was opening his own shop, with exactly one disposable cell phone, and exactly one very good customer. Turns out that wasn't Faithful Assistant's dream. His dream involves some newly single woman with expensive tastes: the weasel told me that if he was going to play this charade it was going to cost me a full 15% of Mike's losses on both phone numbers. I was outraged and we started negotiating and by the time we were done 15% had become 20%. After making a mental note never to negotiate with Faithful Assistant again, I picked up the phone to hire the new book's collection agent. Melody, a good customer's wife, asked me for a job a couple months back. I offered and she accepted this part-time gig as an audition. Mike had his new place to play, Faithful Assistant was angling for a raise to 30%, and I set up a Monday meeting with Melody to tell her how all this would go down. Melody was a quick study. Faithful Assistant was her boss-and-contact and she was supposed to pass by Mike's office every Tuesday afternoon to pay or collect. She wanted to know what to do if Mike didn't have the money. She was disappointed to learn she should do nothing, just call us. I don't think she wanted to break his legs, but I think she wanted to give him a serious telling off, preferably in front of people. Too bad—that's not the way it works. It's a non-issue anyway: Mike pays. Turns out the 20% I'm paying Faithful Assistant is money well spent: he quickly put together that Mike is betting the same teams with both our places. That might be the stupidest piece of betting I've ever laid my eyes on. He calls one number, bets the Yanks, then calls the second number and bets the Yanks again. His second price is almost always worse—how much worse, well, it depends on how greedy we feel. There is no logic to this—he ought to put his whole bet in at the first place he calls, or better yet call both joints for prices and put the bet in at the shop with the better price. (Faithful Assistant is routinely varying prices on the Mike Phone by a penny or two anyway.) The only way Mike's current plan would make sense is if Mike was putting in maximum sized bets and needed to get down two max bets whatever the cost – but that's not happening: Mike's just putting down a few hundred at each place. Aspiring MBA-er Faithful Assistant says that Mike is trying to spread out his “credit risk," so that if one shop goes bust owing him money, he still has the other. Our shenanigans aside, that helps Mike little: If you think your bookie can't pay, don't spread out your risk—just stop calling him and find someone else you're actually comfortable with. It's a bookie joint, not a bank. So we were a little surprised about this but the final shock was Melody's. Melody showed up on Tuesday at Mike's office to pick up $600. She won't have to bother going downtown anymore: She knows “Mike” well: their kids are best friends since they've been neighbors for nine years.

Nasdaq Officials Would Just Like To Point Out That Anyone Who Lost Money As A Result Of The Exchange's Incompetence Have Little To No Legal Recourse

Oh you can try a lawsuit but, historically speaking, it won't do shit. Nasdaq is sending a message to firms weighing lawsuits related to trading losses in Facebook's initial public offering: winning won't be easy. The exchange operator believes it is protected by its contracts with members and by its unusual legal status, which is rooted in its dual role as a regulatory body as well as a business that makes money running markets. Exchange officials in recent weeks have pointed out to analysts that Nasdaq has never been successfully sued over a trading error. "When you look at member agreements that people sign, it's quite explicit that they're bound by that accommodation policy," Robert Greifeld, Nasdaq's chief executive, said last week at a Sandler O'Neill + Partners conference, referring to legal agreements capping the exchange's payouts linked to system problems...Banks and brokers have estimated they lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to technical problems during Facebook's May 18 debut. The glitches forced Nasdaq to delay Facebook's opening, and left trades involving millions of shares unconfirmed for hours. Amid the chaos, traders were forced to guess their positions and place additional orders based on those estimates. When Nasdaq delivered the results of the trading Friday afternoon, many firms were caught off guard and scrambled to reposition. According to Greifeld, the last guy who tried to get his money back "trades on the pink sheets now" but take your best shot. Nasdaq Claims Strong Defense [WSJ] Related: UBS Not Sweating The Small Stuff

Running Exchanges Is Too Hard, Exchange Chiefs Say

U.S. exchanges have become a handful to handle. It seems that all of the order types they've instituted over the years to keep customers and regulators happy may have had the opposite result. But it's not Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or some other Capitol Hill communist levying these charges. It's the exchanges themselves. And rather than doing something about the things they've done to make themselves "overly complex and opaque" at the expense of ordinary investors, they'd prefer to have Congress make them do something.