SEC Approves Circuit Breakers for Stock Market

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today approved rules to require market exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to pause trading on certain stocks if the price moves 10% or more in under five minutes. The rules come in response to trading on May 6, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average lose nearly 1,000 points before closing down 346 points. The proposal for new circuit breakers came soon thereafter on May 18th. The SEC anticipates that the exchanges and FINRA will begin implementing the newly-adopted rules as early as Friday, June 11. “By establishing a set of circuit breakers that uniformly pauses trading in a given security across all venues, these new rules will ensure that all markets pause simultaneously and provide time for buyers and sellers to trade at rational prices,” said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro in a statement. To be clear, the new triggers will initially apply to stock on the S&P 500 Index, on a pilot basis until December 10. If deemed successful, the circuit breakers will be adjusted and expanded to other trading platforms. The five minute pause, it’s thought, will give traders a renewed interest in a stock and “establish a reasonable market price” and “resume trading in a fair and orderly fashion,” the statement concludes. Schapiro hopes to expand the system beyond the markets to publicly traded companies themselves. The SEC will also look to recalibrate the triggers currently in use in the market, which did not go off on May 6. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Disclosure: the author holds no relevant investments.

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