Understanding Trading Halts
The market’s intense reaction to the coronavirus has caused something not seen since 1997: trading halts. If you’re studying for the FINRA Series 7 General Securities Representative exam or the FINRA Series 24 General Securities Principal exam, FINRA may test you on the subject. Rest assured, Solomon Exam Prep’s Series 7 and Series 24 study materials cover the topic in detail. Here’s a little background on trading halts.
Sometimes called “circuit breakers,” these trading halts were first put in place after the 1987 stock market crash known as Black Monday. Part of the reason the Black Monday crash was so bad was the panic selling that happened once the market started dropping. A trading halt is meant to prevent this panicked free fall.
A trading halt may apply to the entire market, or a single security.
Market-Wide Trading Halts
A market-wide trading halt will be triggered when the S&P 500 drops sharply from where it was the day before. A Level 1 halt is triggered by a 7% drop and lasts for 15 minutes. If the drop reaches 13%, it triggers a Level 2 halt. A level 2 halt also lasts 15 minutes. Finally, a 20% drop in the S&P 500 triggers a Level 3 halt, which stops trading for the rest of the day. These kind of halts stop securities and options trading on all the exchanges, as well as the OTC markets.
Trading Pauses in a Single Security
When a company makes a major announcement, it’s stock price may move dramatically. Pausing trading of a particular stock or security protects smaller investors who generally cannot react as quickly to the news as larger investors. If the price of a security drops a certain amount below what it normally trades at, the security is said to be “limit down.” If it stays limit down for 15 seconds, then trading in that security is paused for 5 minutes. Unlike market-wide trading halts, the same goes if the price of a single security rises rapidly. If a security is “limit up” for 15 seconds, trading pauses for 5 minutes. How much a security has to move to be limit up or limit down depends on the type of stock and its normal price range.
Your Securities Exams
Trading halts are topics on the FINRA Series 7 and Series 24 exams. Solomon Exam Prep covers trading halts in Solomon study guides, audio guides, video lectures, exam simulators and digital flashcards. For more information, go to www.SolomonExamPrep.Com or call 503.601.0212.