comScore Nasdaq's Adena Friedman Suggests Trading Halt in Response to Reddit

Nasdaq CEO Suggests Halt to Trading to Allow Investors to ‘Recalibrate Their Positions’ After GameStop Surge

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman suggested Wednesday that her exchange could halt trading activity for stocks, in the event they were targeted by internet users, to enable the exchange to investigate possible manipulation and allow investors to “recalibrate.”

She made the comment in a morning interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen, speaking in reference to price surges inspired by Reddit users. Members of the website’s “WallStreetBets” forum caused stock prices to surge to obscene heights this week for companies including GameStop and AMC Theatres.

“I think that, in general, when we evaluate how we would manage through a situation where you see a significant run-up in a stock not based on news, not based on fundamentals — what we do is we do have technology that evaluates social media chatter. If we see a significant rise in the chatter on social media channels … we also match that up against unusual trading activity, [and] potentially halt that stock to allow ourselves to investigate the situation, to be able to engage with the company, and to give investors a chance to recalibrate their positions.”

GameStop, as well as AMC Theatres, appear on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) rather than on the Nasdaq, leaving Friedman powerless to influence this week’s events. But some regulators have called on the NYSE to halt trading for at least GameStop, including Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, who said the robust investment activity wasn’t “rational.”

“I really think at this point it calls upon the regulators, in this case, the New York Stock Exchange, to consider simply suspending it for a month and stop trading it,” Massachusetts Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin said in a statement to Barron’s. “These small and unsophisticated investors are probably going to get hurt by this.

“There’s no rational basis for this run-up,” he added. “And it’s not just a run-up, it’s also run down. It’s extremely erratic. Clearly, there is a problem here with the way that options are being used in this case. And it needs some regulatory intervention. And I think the most prudent thing is if it’s suspended trading for 30 days.”

Watch above via CNBC.

Correction: A previous headline of this story stated Friedman suggested halting the market to allow “big” investors to recalibrate and combat Reddit users. Friedman, speaking hypothetically, was referring to all investors. The headline and story has been updated to better reflect her remarks.

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