A New York Stock Exchange rule violation. Basically, in this situation the specialist puts their firm's interest ahead of the investor's interest. Consider an example. Suppose that the specialist simultaneously receives orders from two investors, one to sell 5,000 shares of XYZ and one to buy 5,000 shares of XYZ. Normally, these orders are matched. However, suppose that the specialist substitutes (matches) her own firm's 5,000 shares of XYZ. That is, the firm's own shares are sold instead of the order that came in previously. This disadvantages the buyer because the very next transaction will be the order to sell 5,000 shares of XYZ (which will likely put downward pressure on the price). Notice that the firm has bailed out of XYZ at a higher price than if the order was reversed (the specialist's firm selling afterwards). Trading ahead is part of what is known as negative obligation. Trading ahead should not be confused with front_running.
Copyright © 2012, Campbell R. Harvey. All Rights Reserved.
A trade in which a specialist, one who trades only to maintain liquidity in the market, makes a trade when there is an offsetting trade from someone else. For example, suppose a specialist receives an order to buy 100 shares of a stock. Ordinarily, the specialist would look for an offsetting order from the public and only sell the shares from its own account if no such order exists. The specialist trades ahead when it sells 100 shares to the buyer when another order is on record. The specialist does this in order to make a profit for itself. Trading ahead is a violation of NYSE and other rules. See also: Front running.
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