SEC’s White vows technology safeguards after Nasdaq failure

August 22, 2013 04:26 PM
Exchange: "connectivity issue" caused outage

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White said she would push to adopt proposed automated-trading rules after system caused a three-hour halt on the Nasdaq Stock Market today.

The failure that affected Nasdaq’s system for reporting quotes and trades bolsters the regulator’s case for the proposal issued in March, White said in a statement. Stock and options exchanges have pushed the SEC to limit the scope of the rule, including how much information about disruptions must be provided to regulators.

“I will work to advance rules that the commission proposed earlier this year regarding new standards for the trading and other systems that are central to the integrity of our markets,” White said.

White, who told Congress earlier this year that she would scrutinize market stability efforts, also said today she would “convene a meeting of the leaders of the exchanges and other major market participants to accelerate ongoing efforts to further strengthen our markets.”

In a statement issued late today, Nasdaq said the failure stemmed from “a connectivity issue between an exchange participant” and the system for disseminating quotes and prices, known as a securities information processor.

Enforcing Standards

The SEC’s proposal, Regulation SCI, would require self- regulatory organizations such as exchanges, clearing firms, and networks that provide quotation and trade data to adopt policies to prevent failures, stress test their systems, and report disruptions to regulators. The rules would create standards that could be enforced with fines and sanctions.

Regulation SCI was in part a response to the automated trading errors that nearly bankrupted trading firm Knight Capital Group Inc. last year. The company was sold to Getco LLC after losing more than $450 million in a single day through erroneous trades.

“Reg SCI basically gives the SEC the ability to ding any exchange for any problem,” said James J. Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

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