United States Equities Rise on Tremendous Volume
A special class of algorithmic trading is “high-frequency trading” (HFT), in which computers make elaborate decisions to initiate orders based on information that is received electronically, before human traders are capable of processing the information they observe. This has resulted in a dramatic change of the market microstructure, particularly in the way liquidity is provided.[
Algorithmic trading may be used in any investment strategy
, including market making
, inter-market spreading, arbitrage
, or pure speculation
(including trend following
). The investment decision and implementation may be augmented at any stage with algorithmic support or may operate completely automatically.
A third of all European Union and United States stock trades in 2006 were driven by automatic programs, or algorithms, according to Boston-based financial services industry research and consulting firm Aite Group.
As of 2009, HFT firms account for 73% of all US equity trading volume
In 2006, at the London Stock Exchange, over 40% of all orders were entered by algorithmic traders, with 60% predicted for 2007. American markets and European markets generally have a higher proportion of algorithmic trades than other markets, and estimates for 2008 range as high as an 80% proportion in some markets. Foreign exchange markets also have active algorithmic trading (about 25% of orders in 2006). Futures and options markets are considered fairly easy to integrate into algorithmic trading, with about 20% of options volume expected to be computer-generated by 2010.[dated info] Bond markets are moving toward more access to algorithmic traders
One of the main issues regarding HFT is the difficulty in determining how profitable it is. A report released in August 2009 by the TABB Group, a financial services industry research firm, estimated that the 300 securities firms and hedge funds that specialize in this type of trading took in roughly US$21 billion
in profits in 2008.
Algorithmic and HFT have been the subject of much public debate since the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
said they contributed to some of the volatility during the 2010 Flash Crash
when the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its second largest intraday point swing ever to that date, though prices quickly recovered. (See List of largest daily changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average
.) A July, 2011 report by the International Organization of Securities Commissions
(IOSCO), an international body of securities regulators, concluded that while “algorithms and HFT technology have been used by market participants to manage their trading and risk, their usage was also clearly a contributing factor in the flash crash event of May 6, 2010