New York official seeks curbs on high-frequency traders

Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:02am EDT
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By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York's attorney general urged U.S. stock exchanges and other venues on Tuesday to limit services that he said provided unfair advantages to high-frequency traders and undermined confidence in the markets.

The stock exchanges allow traders to locate their computer servers within trading venues, armed with extra network bandwidth and high-speed switches that give them access to pricing, volume and order information ahead of others, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

"Rather than curbing the worst threats posed by high-frequency traders, our markets, as structured today, are increasingly too focused on catering to them," he said in prepared remarks at a symposium hosted by New York Law School.

Schneiderman has begun meetings with the exchanges and alternative trading venues to discuss reforms, according to a person familiar with the situation.

A spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange declined comment. A Nasdaq spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.

Among the practices Schneiderman called into question were "co-location," which allows firms who pay a fee - typically thousands of dollars a month - to locate their computer servers within the exchanges' data centers.

Co-location reduces by milliseconds the time it takes to transmit, long enough for "predatory" high-speed traders to benefit and for the markets to suffer.

For instance, he said, the traders look for arbitrage opportunities between and among venues to capture momentary differences in stock prices.   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening of markets in New York, September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson