CME Loophole that benefits HFT traders: WSJ Article

Discussion in 'Index Futures' started by CPTrader, May 1, 2013.

  1. gmst


  2. What steps should the CME take to eliminate this loophole.
  3. emg


    don't ya subscribed wsj? are ya poor? it only cost $25 per month
  4. emg


    there is no step. this is capitalism. Free market. traders are allow to trade.


    your question should be what are step should be taken to prevent small traders trading on all cme products.

    This is a battle between old school institutional vs HFT. This is not for small traders.
  5. gmst


    LOL ..emg last i expected was a response from you :)

    I had WSJ subscribed for around 5 years but then cancelled my subscription. Reason - I stopped reading news. Yes, you read it right!

    I have been moving towards becoming a fully systematic trader and reading news used to whack my head. So, I simply stopped reading all kinds of news. However, these kind of general market microstructure related news is good to know.
  6. WSJ Article Text:


    High-speed traders are using a hidden facet of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's CME -0.71% computer system to trade on the direction of the futures market before other investors get the same information.

    Using powerful computers, high-speed traders are trying to profit from their ability to detect when their own orders for certain commodities are executed a fraction of a second before the rest of the market sees that data, traders say.

    The advantage often is just one to 10 milliseconds, according to people familiar with the matter and trading records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. But that is plenty of time for computer-driven traders, who say they can structure their orders so that the confirmations tip which direction prices for crude oil, corn and other commodities are moving. A millisecond is one-thousandth of a second.

    The ability to exploit such small time gaps raises questions about transparency and fairness amid the computer-driven, rapid-fire trading that increasingly grips Wall Street and confounds regulators.

    The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a unit of CME Group Inc., is the largest U.S. futures exchange, handling 12.5 million contracts a day on average in the first quarter, according to Sandler + O'Neill Partners L.P. High-frequency trading generated about 61% of all futures-market volume, up from 47% in 2008, according to Tabb Group.

    Fast-moving traders can get a head start in looking at key information because they connect directly to the exchange's computers, giving them the data just before it reaches the so-called public tape accessible to everyone else. The exchange connections contain a host of data, of which the advance notice of trade confirmations is only a piece.

    All firms that connect directly to CME's trading computers are able to get information ahead of the market when their trades are executed, firm officials say. But many companies are unaware of the advantage or choose not to use it, traders say, either because they don't have the technology to take advantage of such tiny edges or employ different investing strategies.

    CME spokeswoman Anita Liskey said the exchange operator is aware of the order delays, which industry officials refer to as a "latency."

    There are "times when customers experience a latency of a few milliseconds between the time they receive their trade confirmations and when the information is accessible on the public feeds," she said, noting that the delays "are not consistent and vary across asset classes."

    Ms. Liskey said CME has been able to trim some delays through computer upgrades and plans additional efforts. Some customers of the exchange have been pressuring CME to improve its technology, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Sophisticated traders have been aware of CME's order-latency issue for years and have incorporated the information into their trading strategies, according to an official with Jump Trading LLC, a big Chicago high-frequency company.

    Officials with Virtu Financial LLC, a high-speed trading firm in New York, view a slight head start as good for the overall market, according to a person familiar with their thinking. The person said the data helps traders who buy and sell futures contracts throughout the day manage risk and post more quotes that benefit other buyers and sellers. The person said Virtu doesn't use the information to amplify its profits by anticipating moves elsewhere in the market.

    Proponents say eliminating the ability of parties in a trade to get information slightly in advance could lead to less-liquid markets because some firms would be inclined to trade less due to the greater risks.

    Officials with Chicago-based DRW Trading Group see the data-feed lags at CME as a "fact of life," not an unfair advantage, because any firm trading in milliseconds can take advantage of it if they build their systems properly, according to a person familiar with their views.

    Firms can use their early looks at CME trading data in several ways. One strategy is to post buy and sell orders a few pennies from where the market is trading and wait until one of the orders is executed. If crude oil is selling for $90 on the CME, a firm might post an order to sell one contract for $90.03 and a buy order for $89.97.

    If the sell order suddenly hits, the firm's computers detect that oil prices have swung higher. Those computers can instantly buy more of the same contract before other traders are even aware of the first move.

    Firms can also capitalize on that early information by buying a related product on another exchange before other traders know of a market shift. For example, it takes about 200 microseconds for trades to get from CME's Aurora, Ill., data center to the computers of IntercontinentalExchange Inc. ICE +1.91% about 33 miles away. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second.

    Traders able to see market swings milliseconds before others gives them "an informational advantage," says Pete Kyle, a finance professor at the University of Maryland who is a former member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Technology Advisory Committee.

    Mr. Kyle likened the activity to "a tax on other traders" because "you get all the gains from being the first guy" to trade.

    The CFTC, which oversees futures exchanges such as the CME, has been ramping up oversight of high-speed trading but agency officials said the CME'S latency issue isn't currently an area of focus.

    While many speed advantages are well-known to market insiders, only a relatively small group of sophisticated firms appears to be aware of the CME's trade-reporting delays. The CME has told regulators that investors routinely get trade information at the same time. A March 29, 2012, CME presentation to the CFTC stated that market data "is disseminated to all participants simultaneously."

    A Chicago trading firm says it recently detected delays between the time it received confirmations of trades and the time the CME published the information on multiple futures contracts covering thousands of trades. For two weeks in late December and early January, the firm detected an average delay of 2.4 milliseconds for silver futures, 4.1 milliseconds in soybean futures and 1.1 milliseconds for gold futures.

    Write to Scott Patterson at, Jenny Strasburg at and Liam Pleven at
  7. gmst


    Thanks CPTrader for posting the article
  8. There is another side to it that everyone seems missing. This very anomaly could be reliably exploited by the "slower" traders using the knowledge that there are HFT algos out there that target price micro-momentums. I am surprised that nobody sees it. I have been preaching it for quite some time now. It is so easy to harvest!
    #10     May 1, 2013