Nefarious High-Frequency Trades Stomp Markets: Dave's Daily

The big story Wednesday was a "bear raid". It began with what some initially referred to as either a mistake ("fat fingered") with unusually large selling of Treasury futures contracts (over 100K contracts in one trade). The trade, later described as legitimate ( see WSJ story) was based on the idea Bernanke would take QE3 off the table sending interest rates higher. The size of these trades created a domino effect triggering heavy selling in commodity markets, especially with precious metals which are also on an options expiration cycle.

Much of the related selling was triggered by HFT algos piling headlines with selling. It's also been common the past couple of years now to see some deliberate manipulation of prices by a handful of institutions in precious metals markets at the futures and options exchanges. Gold prices fell over 5% and silver almost 7% as trailing stops were triggered. These have been termed "bear raids" by most participants. It makes being involved in these markets like swimming with sharks.

Economic data released today put a positive spin on markets as GDP data 3% growth vs 2.8% expected); Chicago PMI ( 64 vs 61 expected and prior 60.2); and, the Fed Beige Book showed modest to moderate overall economic growth.

Bernanke's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony was his usual shpeal containing little new information. The only entertainment was the usual exchange with Congressman Ron Paul.

Stocks declined overall on the last trading day of February as algos were active in stocks as well. Bonds were lower on the heavy selling on Bernanke speech.  We already know about commodities and currency markets.

Not surprisingly volume increased on selling which is typical. Breadth per the WSJ was negative and only a handful of stocks did better--care to guess? I thought not.

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SPY - The SPDR® S&P 500® ETF is a fund that, before expenses, generally corresponds to the price and yield performance of the S&P 500 Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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IWM - The iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the small capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market as represented by the Russell 2000 Index. The index represents the approximately 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index.
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QQQ - PowerShares Capital Management LLC is passionate about our goal of delivering the highest quality investment management available through one of the more benefit-rich investment vehicles ever created, the exchange-traded fund.PowerShares QQQ¿, formerly known as "QQQ" or the "NASDAQ- 100 Index Tracking Stock®", is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index®. The Fund will, under most circumstances, consists of all of stocks in the Index.
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QQEW - The First Trust NASDAQ-100 Equal Weighted IndexSM Fund is an exchange-traded index fund. The investment objective of the fund is to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield of the NASDAQ-100 Equal Weighted IndexSM.
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Continue to U.S. Sector, Stocks & Bond ETFs

XLK - The Technology Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Technology Select Sector Index (ticker: IXT). Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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RYT - Seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before expenses, the performance of the S&P Equal Weight Index Information Technology.
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ITB - The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index.
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KBE - The SPDR® S&P® Bank ETF, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the S&P® Banks Select Industry Index (ticker: SPSIBK). Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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XLF - The Financial Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Financial Select Sector Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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XLB - The Materials Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Materials Select Sector Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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XRT - The SPDR® S&P® Retail ETF seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before expenses, the total return performance of the S&P Retail Select Industry® Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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IEF - The iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treasury Bond Fund seeks to approximate the total rate of return of the intermediate-term sector of the United States Treasury market as defined by the Barclays Capital U.S. 7-10 Year Treasury Bond Index.
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TLT - The iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund seeks to approximate the total rate of return of the long-term sector of the United States Treasury market as defined by the Barclays Capital U.S. 20+ Year Treasury Bond Index.
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LQD - The iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the corporate bond market as defined by the iBoxx $ Liquid Investment Grade Index.
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HYG - The iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the corporate bond market as defined by the iBoxx $ Liquid Investment Grade Index.
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EMB - The iShares JPMorgan USD Emerging Markets Bond Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the JPMorgan EMBI Global Core Index.
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Continue to Currency & Commodity Market ETFs


UUP - The PowerShares DB US Dollar Bullish Fund (Symbol: UUP) is based on the Deutsche Bank Long US Dollar Index (USDX®) Futures Index¿ (DB Long USD Futures Index). The Index, which is managed by DB Commodity Services LLC, is a rules-based index composed solely of long USDX® futures contracts.

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FXE - CurrencyShares Euro Trust is designed to track the price of the euro net of Trust expenses, which are expected to be paid from interest earned on the deposited euros.
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GLD - The objective of the SPDR® Gold Trust¿ is for the Shares to reflect the performance of the price of gold bullion, less the Trust's expenses.
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GDX - The Gold Miners ETF seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index. The Index provides exposure to publicly traded companies worldwide involved primarily in the mining for gold, representing a diversified blend of small-, mid- and large- capitalization stocks. As such, the Fund is subject to the risks of investing in this sector.
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SLV - The objective of the iShares Silver Trust is for the value of the shares of the iShares Silver Trust to reflect, at any given time, the price of silver owned by the iShares Silver Trust at that time, less the iShares Silver Trust's expenses and liabilities.
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JJC - The Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total ReturnService Mark is a sub-index of the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total ReturnService Mark and reflects the returns that are potentially available through an unleveraged investment in the futures contracts on physical commodities comprising the index plus the rate of interest that could be earned on cash collateral invested in specified Treasury Bills.
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DJP - The iPath® Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total ReturnService Mark ETN is linked to the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total ReturnService Mark and reflects the returns that are potentially available through an unleveraged investment in the futures contracts on physical commodities comprising the index plus the rate of interest that could be earned on cash collateral invested in specified Treasury Bills.
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USO - The United States Oil Fund, LP ("USO") is a domestic exchange traded security designed to track the movements of light, sweet crude oil ("West Texas Intermediate").
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XLE - The Energy Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Energy Select Sector Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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JJG - The Dow Jones-UBS Grains Subindex Total ReturnService Mark is a sub-index of the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total ReturnService Mark and reflects the returns that are potentially available through an unleveraged investment in the futures contracts on physical commodities comprising the Index plus the rate of interest that could be earned on cash collateral invested in specified Treasury Bills. The Index is currently composed of three futures contracts on grains traded on U.S. exchanges.
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Continue to Overseas Sectors & ETFs

EFA - The iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the European, Australasian and Far Eastern markets, as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index.
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EEM - The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
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EWJ - The iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the Japanese market, as measured by the MSCI Japan Index.
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EWG - The iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the German market, as measured by the MSCI Germany Index.
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EWU - The iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the British market, as measured by the MSCI United Kingdom Index.
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EWY - The iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the South Korean market, as measured by the MSCI Korea Index.
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EWZ - The iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the Brazilian market, as measured by the MSCI Brazil Index.
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RSX - The Russia ETF seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the DAXglobal® Russia+ Index. The Index provides exposure to publicly traded companies that are domiciled in Russia, and traded in Russia and/or on leading global exchanges. As such, the Fund is subject to the risks of investing in this country.
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EPI - WisdomTree India Earnings Fund seeks investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the WisdomTree India Earnings Index.
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The NYMO is a market breadth indicator that is based on the difference between the number of advancing and declining issues on the NYSE. When readings are +60/-60 markets are extended short-term.

The McClellan Summation Index is a long-term version of the McClellan Oscillator. It is a market breadth indicator, and interpretation is similar to that of the McClellan Oscillator, except that it is more suited to major trends. I believe readings of +1000/-1000 reveal markets as much extended.

The VIX is a widely used measure of market risk and is often referred to as the "investor fear gauge". Our own interpretation is highlighted in the chart above. The VIX measures the level of put option activity over a 30-day period. Greater buying of put options (protection) causes the index to rise.

Continue to Concluding Remarks

This is the new market we have--algo and HFT manipulated. This is why so many retail investors have flipped-off stock markets. Who can blame them?!

Thursday's economic data features Jobless Claims; Personal Income & Outlays; ISM Mfg Index; and, Construction Spending.

Let's see what happens.

Disclaimer: The ETF Digest maintains active ETF trading portfolio and a wide selection of ETFs away from portfolios in an independent listing. Current positions if any are embedded within charts: Lazy & Hedged Lazy Portfolios maintain the follow positions: VT, MGV, BND, BSV, VGT, VWO, VNO, IAU, DJCI, DJP, VMBS, VIG, ILF, EWA, IEV, EWC, EWJ, EWG, & EWU.

 

The charts and comments are only the author's view of market activity and aren't recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Market sectors and related ETFs are selected based on his opinion as to their importance in providing the viewer a comprehensive summary of market conditions for the featured period.  Chart annotations aren't predictive of any future market action rather they only demonstrate the author's opinion as to a range of possibilities going forward. More detailed information, including actionable alerts, are available to subscribers at www.etfdigest.com .

 
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

Dave Fry is founder and publisher of ETF Digest, Dave's Daily blog and the best-selling book author of Create Your Own ETF Hedge Fund, A DIY Strategy for Private Wealth Management, published by Wiley Finance in 2008. A detailed bio is here: Dave Fry.

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