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Knight Causing More Stink Than Story

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The stock market has rallied to its highest level since early May on Friday, thanks to a stronger-than-expected jobs report.

Yet, we can't forget the market turmoil that ensued beginning Wednesday morning.

If you were watching, there was a shocking wave of buying and selling. Before long, many realized the stock market had been rocked by a breakdown in one of the big high-frequency computer trading programs.

It involved a financial services company that provides access to the capital markets across multiple asset classes to buy- and sell-side firms and corporations, as well as offers capital markets services to corporate issuers and private companies primarily in the United States.

It suddenly disclosed a $440 million loss associated with a computer algorithmic trading program malfunction. That's no small loss for a company of its size.

Was the unexpected disclosure a cry for help to be salvaged from a ruinous mistake or was it a set-up to be taken over before the weekend begins?

I'm referring to Knight Capital Management Group (KCG), which said losses from Wednesday's trading breakdown were almost four times its 2011 net income and much more than analysts had estimated.

Now the firm, apparently a victim of its own market-making schemes, is exploring strategic and financial alternatives. Rumors spread Friday afternoon that it received a last-minute credit line to live to trade yet another day.

Knight's market-making segment engages in market-making in global equities and listed domestic options. A market-maker is supposed to be the person who creates the pricing for an investment and then buys or sells it if the bid or ask price has no other buyers or sellers available.

Knight primarily offers client and non-client electronic market making activities in equity securities quoted and traded on the exchanges, over-the-counter markets and option markets. Its electronic-trading platform is a big part of how the plethora of investment and derivatives markets operates.

Suddenly, an algorithm gone awry is supposed to be the reason the company has lost 80% of its market capitalization in the wake of the trading loss, only to gain some of that back after rumors circulated banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) may want to scoop up this crushed company.

Stock quotes in this article: KCG, JPM, GE 

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