JPMorgan launches new algo-driven 'dark pool' for stocks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co has begun trading on a new private stock trading venue, or “dark pool,” that lets its clients use the bank’s algorithms to buy or sell stocks at a benchmark price reached over a period of time.

FILE PHOTO - A JPMorgan Chase & Co logo is seen in New York City, U.S. on January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

Trading in the new dark pool, known as JPBX, began the week of July 17, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The move comes at a time of increased regulatory scrutiny of dark pools that has led to a number of trading venues being shuttered, and highlights JPMorgan’s efforts to expand its equities business.

JPMorgan’s securities unit also runs JPMX, a dark pool that matches shares in a more traditional manner, within the spread of the best bid and offer prices shown on public stock exchanges like those run by Nasdaq Inc or Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s New York Stock Exchange.

Brokers looking to get benchmark pricing for their orders can access the new dark pool through JPMorgan’s algorithms.

For instance, a broker might have an order for 5,000 shares to buy while another broker has an order for 2,000 shares of the same stock and wants to get the volume-weighted average price. JPBX will lock up the 2,000 shares on both sides for say, two minutes, and then execute at the average price of the stock over the previous two minutes.

The bank hopes to have the dark pool fully launched by the end of the month, said a person with knowledge of the matter who did not have permission to be quoted in the media.

JPMorgan spokeswoman Jessica Francisco declined to comment.

Nearly every major bank has a dark pool, a trading venue that does not have to provide information such as trade sizes or prices to the public prior to trades taking place, with the aim of getting large orders done with minimal price movement.

Dark pools have historically been lightly regulated when compared with public exchanges, but in recent years have come under increased scrutiny, driving up legal, compliance, and technology costs for the firms that run them. Over the past several years, the number of dark pools has dwindled to around 30, according to FINRA, from around 50.

For the week of July 24, 417,289 shares were crossed on 3,636 orders in JPBX, up from 2,220 shares on 16 orders the previous week, according to FINRA.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Lisa Shumaker