EU Set to Vote on High-Frequency Trading Restrictions

EU Set to Vote on High-Frequency Trading Restrictions Bobby Hidy/Flickr

European Union lawmakers are set to approve some of the toughest restrictions on high-frequency trading, the Telegraph reports. These restrictions are part of a larger package of EU market reforms—due to be voted on by the European Parliament Tuesday—that will address commodity derivatives speculation and investor protection, among other issues.

“With these rules, the EU is putting in place one of the strictest set of regulations for high-frequency trading in the world,” EU financial services commissioner Michel Barnier said on Monday, according to the Telegraph. “While HFT trading might bring some benefits, we need to make sure that it doesn’t cause instability, and isn’t a source of market abuse. That’s what these rules set out to achieve.”

The EU requirements for high-frequency traders include a stipulation that they must have their algorithms tested on venues and authorized by regulators, Bloomberg reports. Firms will have to run their algorithms “during a specified portion of the day,” which will be agreed to in writing with the trading platform.

The drafts for the rules predate Michael Lewis’s book “Flash Boys,” in which the author alleged that high-frequency traders have been rigging the stock market. Problems with the industry came to light back in May 2010 after the so-called flash crash, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly lost almost 1,000 points, Bloomberg reports.

Originally the rules included proposals to ensure orders stay on a trader’s book for a minimum time, which would make it difficult for high-frequency traders to operate, but these were dropped last year, the Telegraph reports.

Following Tuesday’s vote, the rules will need to be endorsed by individual nations, according to the Telegraph. The measures will not take effect until two and a half years after they are adopted and published by the EU, Bloomberg reports.

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