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SEC To Focus Oversight On High-Speed Trading


NPR's Business News starts with a modest crackdown on high-speed trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission is taking new steps to regulate high-speed trading on Wall Street though it's not as if the head of the SEC is that worried as NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: The author Michael Lewis brought a lot of attention to high-speed trading with his book "Flash Boys" and his claim that the stack market is rigged. Many firms spent a lot of money to create their own superfast connections to stock exchange computers so they can get information and can trade faster than the broader market. Critics say that's not fair. These traders also, allegedly, manipulate the market - for example, by quickly placing a flurry of trades and then canceling them. The chair of the SEC Mary Jo White though downplayed the idea that all this means that the stock market is rigged.

MARY JO WHITE: The clear message is the market aren't rigged, we have the strongest most resilient markets in the world. Again, doesn't mean they're perfect and we are obviously constantly working on it to make it fair and to better serve all of the investors and companies.

ARNOLD: White was speaking there to CNBC at a big financial markets conference in New York where she propose placing high-speed trading firms under more regulatory scrutiny. White also said she wants more oversight and transparency for what are called dark pools. If those sound mysterious that's because they are. Dark pools are private electronic platforms where investors trade stocks away from the much more transparent stock exchanges. White said 35 percent of stock trading volume now is taking place inside these dark trading venues. Chris Arnold, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.