Botched BATS IPO At Least Good Test for Markets

As reported by Antony Currie, 26 March 2012, Breakingviews

The botched BATS initial public offering could be disastrous for the upstart electronic exchange. It scrapped its market debut on Friday after shares crashed from their $16 opening to just 2 cents after a “serious technical failure.” It’s a potential killer for the company, which is already the focus of investigations into high frequency trading. The good news is that the stumble didn’t catalyze a broader market meltdown.

That at least offers some reassurance that the infrastructure of U.S. equity markets is far more robust than it was at the time of the so-called Flash Crash of May 2010. Markets tanked 9 percent in seconds then, after a few random trades kicked off a tailspin across the many electronic trading platforms and exchanges handling U.S stocks.

Friday’s flop had the latent power to create a similar fiasco. BATS accounts for some 11 percent of U.S. equity trading volume, much of it from firms using supercomputers moving in milliseconds. Instead, the damage was limited. There was the hit to Apple, the $600 billion powerhouse, whose shares were briefly halted after dipping 9 percent. The erroneous trades were swiftly nullified before the iPad maker’s stock was back up and running.

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