SEC Moves to Pause Trading if Stock Market Swings Wildly

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is working with national securities exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) by filing proposed rules which will pause trading in certain individual stocks, by using what it calls “circuit breakers,” if the price moves 10 percent or more in a five-minute period. On May 6th, mortgage finance stocks took a beating as the exchanges swung wildly, dipping nearly 1,000 points before clawing back some ground. These rules reflect a consensus that was achieved among the exchanges and FINRA after SEC chair Mary Schapiro convened a meeting on the incident early last week. “We continue to believe that the market disruption of May 6th was exacerbated by disparate trading rules and conventions across the exchanges,” Schapiro said in a statement. “As such, I believe it is important that all the exchanges quickly reached consensus on a set of uniform circuit breakers that would be triggered when needed.” Initially, these new rules would be in effect on a pilot basis through Dec. 10, 2010, pending approval. The SEC staff is working with the markets to consider recalibrating market-wide circuit breakers currently on the books — none of which were triggered on May 6. These circuit breakers apply across all equity trading venues and the futures markets. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Disclosure: the author holds no relevant investments.

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