U.S. securities regulator is looking into a Wall Street trading practice in which unusually large numbers of orders to buy or sell stocks are placed in a fraction of a second, only to be canceled almost immediately, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is analyzing whether the trading practice — known as "quote stuffing" – is placing some investors at a disadvantage by distorting stock prices, the Journal said citing people familiar with the matter.
SEC is also scrutinizing whether quote stuffing played any role in the May 6 "flash crash," when U.S. stock markets suffered a record fall within minutes.
The regulator is also probing whether a practice called as "sub-penny pricing," is used to manipulate the market, the newspaper said citing a person familiar with the matter.
In the sub-penny pricing method, the orders are priced in increments as small as one-tenth of a cent and far away from the actual price at which a stock is trading.
An SEC spokesman declined to comment to the Journal on the inquiry.
SEC could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.