Australian super funds in joint action to curb 'unfair' high-frequency trading
Comment of the Day

October 18 2012

Commentary by David Fuller

Australian super funds in joint action to curb 'unfair' high-frequency trading

Here is the opening for this article from The Sydney Morning Herald:
Some of Australia's biggest super funds have written to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, expressing concern about the growth of ultra-fast electronic trading in the local equity market.

The group - representing more than $1 trillion under management - has also asked the corporate regulator to consider reforming the way in which the Australian Securities Exchange gives information to market participants, believing the ''unfairness embedded in the structure of the market'' has allowed high frequency traders to thrive, to the detriment of others.

The group argues that HFTs have an unfair advantage over traditional investors claiming they can see information a fraction of a second before other market participants. The group claims the ASX allows this to happen by offering them ''special access'' through ''co-location facilities'' and ''special data feeds''.

Given the speeds with which HFTs operate, this is undermining market fairness and contributing to a ''two-tiered market'', the group says.

''We believe attention must be directed towards issues of market fairness, and towards certain practices commonly associated with high-frequency trading,'' the letter says. ''We request that ASIC consider reform at the exchange level.''

The move comes as global concerns about high-speed computerised trading continues to rise. Germany recently approved a draft law aimed at reining in the practice and the European Parliament voted to force trading venues to slow the speed at which orders can be made.

David Fuller's view There has always been a predatory aspect to financial markets but sharp practices such as dealing on insider information and front-running were made illegal and therefore punishable offences. I think HFT firms are definitely gaming the system and this is detrimental to the formation of capital for which stock exchanges were created. Greedy, short-sighted exchange officials only care about the revenue generated rather than the longer-term consequences for their industry.

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