Selasa, 25 Januari 2011

High frequency trading ideas

I just started reading Larry Harris' book "Trading and Exchanges" (thanks to Max Dama's glowing book review) and already a couple of potential high frequency trading techniques stood out:

"Quote matching" - a technique whereby front-runners place a limit buy order just a cent (for stocks) higher than the best bid price. If the order is filled, they then place a limit sell order just a cent lower than the best ask. Assuming the best bid-ask quotes don't move, the worst they can do is to lose 1 cent by selling the share back to the best bidder, while the most profit they can make is the bid-ask spread plus rebates for providing liquidity minus 2 cents by having the sell long limit order filled. This could work out quite profitably if the bid-ask spread is wide. But of course, the best bid-ask do change constantly, so front-runners would need to cancel and correct their limit orders constantly, and the optimal algorithm for doing this could get quite complicated. Meanwhile, if you are a bona fide liquidity provider, you would have to avoid providing this free option to the front-runners by constantly monitoring who is in front of you. As usual, this chess game can quickly degenerate into an HFT arms race.

"Manipulation of stop orders" - a.k.a. "gunning the market", a technique whereby the market gunners buy aggressively so as to trigger large buy stop orders that they believe are in place at a higher price. When these buy stop orders are filled, the prices are driven higher still, and these manipulators then sell their position profitably.

One of my old momentum strategies was a victim of these market gunners, and after that sad experience I refused to use stop orders any more, at least for stocks. However, here is a question for our knowledgeable readers: can other traders actually see what stop orders there are on an order book (whether for stocks, futures, or Forex markets)? And if so, would a trading robot that simulates stop orders by sending out buy market orders when the stop price is touched work better than manually placing a buy stop order on the order book?

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