Forget the equity market. For high-frequency traders, the place to be is foreign exchange.
Firms using the ultra-fast strategies getting scrutiny thanks to Michael Lewis’s book “Flash Boys” account for more than 35 percent of spot currency volume in October 2013, up from 9 percent in October 2008, according to consultant Aite Group LLC. It’s the opposite of equities, where their proportion shrank to 50 percent in 2012 from 66 percent four years ago, according to Rosenblatt Securities Inc.
As brokers get better at cloaking orders and volume shrinks in stocks, speed trading remains a growth business in the $5.3 trillion foreign-exchange market, where authorities on three continents are examining the manipulation of benchmarks. While some see them as a sign of transparency, the tactics are catching on just as their role in equities is probed by the New York state attorney general and Federal Bureau of Investigation.