WASHINGTON - The Securities and Exchange Commission is embarking on a broad plan to tackle growing concerns about the impact of high-speed computer-based trading on equity markets.
In a speech Thursday, SEC Chair Mary Jo White outlined new rules and regulations that aim to boost market stability and fairness, enhance transparency and improve markets for smaller companies.
"We are assessing the extent to which specific elements of the computer-driven trading environment may be working against investors rather than for them," said White, who has led the SEC since April 2013.
Among the proposed measures is a rule intended to curb aggressive short-term tactics when the market is especially volatile. White also wants to see private high-frequency traders registered as dealers, a change that would bring them under SEC oversight.
White's proposals come amid mounting debate about the impact of superfast computers and algorithms, which now account for a majority of trading volume. The increasingly complex electronics systems that run stock trading have come under strain in recent years. They have resulted in incidents like the 2010 "flash crash," when a computer problem sent stocks down wildly.
White expressed concerns about transparency and directed particular aim at so-called "dark trading venues," which now account for up to 35 percent of trades. Unlike public stock exchanges, dark venues are private, off-market platforms that offer limited information about participants or how they operate.