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Banking

Trading: Banks swim in dark pools

Hope to improve prices and minimize fees and impact on market.

In May, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS announced bilateral agreements to offer reciprocal access for algorithmic trades to each other’s "dark pools".

Dark pools are matching engines for non-displayed, anonymous trading away from the public markets.

The arrangements, which apply to US stocks only, connect three of the largest investment bank-operated dark liquidity pools in the US – Goldman Sachs’s Sigma X, Morgan Stanley’s MS Pool and UBS’s Pin ATS – but stops short of full integration. The banks involved have also left open the possibility that they might connect to other dark pools in the future.

By linking their internal dark pools, the banks hope to improve the proportion of trades executed away from the public market, giving them a chance to offer price improvement, minimize the market impact of trades and save on exchange fees.

"We’re confident that providing our respective clients access to each other’s liquidity will achieve even better crossing results for our clients in an increasingly fragmented market," says Greg Tusar, managing director, Goldman Sachs Electronic Trading.

Simplification

For the investment banks involved, simplifying the increasingly complicated trading environment was also an objective.

"Our clients are looking for incremental liquidity without having to split each order across many different algorithms," says Will Sterling, managing director, UBS Electronic Trading.

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