An NYSE Scalper's Tale - A Trader's Diary

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Gross: -$703.00
Net: -$720.74
Loss From Top: $720.74
Trades: 8
Shares Traded: 18000

Stocks Traded Today (net profit/loss):
Blockbuster Inc. (BBI): -$49.78
Nordstrom Inc. (JWN): - $89.36
Tenet Healthcare Corporation (THC): -$581.60


This was turning out to be a relatively good month, but the last two trading days I've lost close to $1200 and I managed to screw it up.

Before I go any further, let me describe to you what kind of system problems we've been having the last two trading days. I'm not blaming these problems for my poor performance, but I just wanted you to know what we've had to put up with.

Here are some of the problems:
  • Stickies every where (where ECN shares are filled, but remain on the Level 2)
  • When you hit the buy or sell key, order prices are sometimes not at the bid or ask...thus if you try to punch in or out, your order will be placed 10, 20, sometimes 50 cents out of the money and with this new Hybrid market, more often than not you'll usually end up getting the prices you set
  • "Fake" prints go off on the time and sales...this one really screws you up because you're in a position when suddenly you see lots of prints go off 10 cents or more out of the money - I don't know what the hell these prints are or whether they are just going off on the bid or ask
  • You get a "fake" P&L when you are in a position - even though you're in a losing position, the blotter will report a profitable position
  • The Level 2 is all messed up and often times you can't see where prices are - either they are delayed or you'll see NYSE orders crossed on the Level 2 (this is now Hybrid and we should no longer see crossed NYB orders on the Level 2)...of course, add to it all the stickies and you have no idea what's going on
There are probably other problems that other traders have reported, but these are the ones that bother the hell out of me.

I didn't want to mention it in yesterday's post (I thought these problems would be a one day event), but these problems screwed me up yesterday too. There was a position I got in yesterday and as soon as I was in, my shutdown clock appears (even though I was no where near being shutdown). In the confusion, I checked my order logs, checked my prices, and basically lost focus and when I came back to focus on the trade, it was already a bad loser.

Well, today I got screwed very early in the morning....2/3 of it was my fault, and the other 1/3 I'd have to blame the system.

I was watching Tenet Healthcare (THC) and it looked like it caught some support. After a hard market tank in the morning, it appeared to be stabilizing.

The first problem was just a bad decision to try to go long on THC. I was thinking that it caught support and that since the market tankage had stopped, that THC could move up from there. I thought I'd just test the waters with a small position on it.

The second problem was a keystroke error. I had only wanted to go long 3000 shares (a rather smallish position on this stock), but somehow I accidentally hit the "6" key instead of the "3" key on the NumPad and I went long 6000 shares instead.

The last problem was just the screwed up system. As soon as I was long on the stock, the blotter was showing me a winner. The Level 2 was all messed up and I really couldn't see what the real price was on THC.

Add to it those annoying "fake" prints going off mixed in with real prints and you have total confusion. I tried very hard to see where the real prints were, as I couldn't see where prices were on the Level 2.

But my blotter was showing a 5-cent winner. In the confusion, I didn't really know what to believe. The Level 2 was screwed. The time and sales were screwed and showing screwed up prints. My blotter was showing a winner, but my charts were showing a loser.

I hesistated for a good while as I sat there in confusion. I decided to get out, so I quickly put in an order to dump half my shares (3000 shares), but the stupid system set the price 15 cents lower than I wanted, but I was too quick in trying to exit that I didn't double check the prices I was setting on my orders. I got filled (but I didn't check to see at what price I got since I was concerned with exiting my entire position).

Then I quickly put out another order to exit the other half of my position and out of the corner of my eye, I saw that it was setting the price 15 cents lower than I wanted. It was too late...I had pressed Enter and I had punched everything out for close to a 10-cent loser.

I was done for the day by 10:15AM.

And so, I was screwed on the trade, I was screwed on the trading day, and now I'm screwed for the month. I really wonder if other prop firms really encounter as many problems as we do.

I realize that I'm at the head office and that we are usually used as guinea pigs when they want to test new versions of the software, but come on! The problems I described above could have been identified by the testers or even the programmers for that matter.

I don't know what kind of education those programmers have, but when I went to university to study programming, I know this is not the way it should be done....when I learned all this stuff, I learned that there are proper procedures and steps programmers should follow to ensure high quality work. Even if you have testers, the obvious things described above should have already been taken care of.

Sorry about all my ranting....I guess when you get screwed, it usually brings out the worst in people....

Good Trades

Bad Trades
10:04:23AM - Tenet Healthcare (THC) was moving down, but appeared to stabilize at the $7.20 level. It was a bad idea to go long at this point, which was why I wanted to get in with a small position and add to it if the position went my way. But a keystroke error had me going long 6000 shares at $7.21. Then the ball of confusion occurred and the system malfunctions had me getting out as follows: 9-cent loser (3000 shares), 10-cent loser (3000 shares) ($570 loser before fees ; Long 6000 shares @ $7.21 ; Out: didn't record)



  • Hey JC,

    I talked to a friend at Bright and he has been having troubles all day. The volume caused the NYSE to shut down intermittently and everything was slow when it was active. He said it took 30 minutes for his MOC order to be filled - typically an instantaneous transaction.

    I stopped myself out today for a $625 loss, so I can commiserate with you. There are guys out there who have just made their year, but I'm hoping for things to settle down a bit :)

    take care, -t.

    By Blogger Tyro, at February 27, 2007 5:00 p.m.  

  • hi,jc
    at my branch,the same problems have happened.It made me lost money too,and I feel very bothering about this.
    I think I have enough reasons to complain about the bad system.
    IF the quotes are not so fake,I think a lot of trader can make a killing.

    By Anonymous wj, at February 27, 2007 5:03 p.m.  

  • The fly is reporting the same problems.

    By Blogger killer, at February 27, 2007 6:05 p.m.  

  • Hi JC, As we all see the problematic Swift Trade shitty system keeping bothering traders, maybe it's time for you to move to other prop trading firm where they pay off much higher commission percentage than ST...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 27, 2007 6:26 p.m.  

  • Tyro,
    Thanks for your comments. Yea, it seems like quite a few other places seemed to have difficulties as well. It shall be interesting to see where this all goes tomorrow!

    Thanks for your comments. Oh's too bad about the system. I can maybe understand it having problems today, but yesterday nothing was going on, but it still had the same problems. Hopefully they get it fixed soon!

    Thanks for your comments. Yea - I was checking the EliteTrader boards and quite a few people were complaining about it too...hopefully no one got hurt too bad because of it...

    Thanks for your comments. I'm keeping that option open and I've always got my eye open for new opportunities elsewhere...but for now, I'm going to continue learning how to trade there until I can comfortably make the transition...

    By Blogger J.C., at February 27, 2007 7:37 p.m.  

  • JC and everyone

    Even a retail trader like me had problems with Tradestation and Esignal, crossed L2 quotes, fake prints. Was a market wide issue I think.

    Trade safe today, gonna be a wild couple of days.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 28, 2007 3:21 a.m.  

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