Mizuho Securities’ Spyridon Mentzas discusses the status of the Japanese exchange merger and offers thoughts on how well the two systems will merge and the benefits investors can expect.
Compatibility The merger of Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) and Osaka Securities Exchange (OSE) is not yet finalized, but it appears they will merge in the beginning of 2013, with the details yet to be specified. The first impression is that they have nearly identical trading rules with some minor differences, such as the OSE trading until 3:10, while the TSE closes at 3:00. When TSE decided to shorten the lunch time in November, the OSE did the same. When one of the exchanges (usually, the TSE) changes the rules, then the other moves in tandem: for example, changing the tick sizes. If the merger does go ahead, it is likely that they are going to use the TSE’s cash system, arrowhead, and OSE’ J-GATE for derivatives. They will use the old systems in parallel, which will achieve a reduction in cost because they will not have to maintain two systems.
Further Industry Consolidation The ECN’s in the US enjoyed technological superiority versus the classic exchanges, where NYSE’s latency was significantly slower than Arca’s. This would have been reason enough for TSE to consider buying a PTS, but with arrowhead’s current latency of less than 2 milliseconds (and another upgrade in the next few months to target less than a millisecond), simply buying a PTS would not give them a noticeable advantage because the TSE and OSE are on par with the PTSs. The reason why PTSs are increasing their market share is that, unlike in the UK and US, where Reg NMS and MiFID have required trading on the exchange with the best price, in Japan the PTSs draw volume through decimal points and smaller tick sizes than the incumbents.
For example, Mizuho Financial Group might trade on the TSE at 105 yen bid, 106 yen offer. That one yen spread is close to 100 basis points or almost one percent, whereas the PTS trades at 0.1 yen. This is a major incentive for investors to buy and sell on the PTSs with their smaller increments to reduce market impact and trading costs. From the beginning, the regulators have not been overly concerned with the PTSs deciding to trade in decimal places and have 0.1 yen ticks. It was always up to the PTSs to decide and the TSE could do the same. If anything, I think the new exchange would rather reduce their tick sizes, than merge again.
However, not all participants would be happy to see new tick sizes, for example, some of the proprietary houses or small firms that trade with retail, as altering their downstream systems to handle decimal places would be costly.
This will also create a fragmentation of liquidity in tick sizes. The bids and offers on the TSE are often thick, with something like 50 billion shares sitting on the bid side, so with 0.1 yen ticks, the average order size might move to 3 million or 1 million shares. Traders who want to buy a large lot will have to scroll up and down to find out how much they have to go up to absorb the available liquidity. I think for the traditional long-only traders, this might mean an increased scattering of liquidity. There is sufficient liquidity in the market at present; even for stocks trading at a low price – there are market makers trying to make 1% during the day. If smaller tick sizes are introduced, that liquidity will likely be scattered or disappear.
Daiwa Capital Markets’ David deGraw catalogs the movements of Japanese markets in 2011 and discusses the various approaches Japan could take with regard to dark pools and High Frequency Trading (HFT).
Volume and Liquidity in Japan Right now, contagion from Europe and the turmoil from the United States have depressed equity transaction volumes across the globe. Once a recovery starts to gain steam, Asia will be the driver for growth and Japan will be a quality play. Due to the perennial underweighting of Japan, I expect volumes in Japan will quickly surpass pre-crisis levels in such a scenario. With exchange volumes being so low, non-traditional liquidity is playing an increasingly important role. We have seen transaction volumes on our nondisplayed liquidity pool as well as PTS volumes continue to grow relative to exchange volumes. We are trying to bring the benefits of crossing to as many client types as possible and our unique position as a principal domestic investment bank enables us to access semi- to non-professional liquidity sources, such as corporate and religious entities, educational endowments, quasipublic institutions, agricultural cooperatives, and retail investors.
Role of PTSs in Japan The role of PTSs has increased steadily since the start of this year and has accounted for as high as 7-8% of market share. The success of SBI Japannext and Chi-X Japan PTS shows that the market is rewarding innovation and efficiency that is created as a result of increased openness and competition. Conversely, the closing of Kabu.com shows that a PTS’s revenue model may not be sustainable over an extended period of low trading volume. Therefore it is critical for participants to carefully evaluate the viability of a venue so that the large upfront technology investments are not wasted.
The implementation of centralized clearing through JSCC was critical for the existing PTSs to rapidly and dramatically expand their share in 2011. However, since August, growth has slowed somewhat along with the rest of the market. Having said that, there are still very good reasons to expect future growth in PTS market share. Both PTSs are working aggressively to on-board new participants and Chi-X has recently announced the introduction of liquidity rebates in Japan. Chi-X have a successful record of growing their market share in Europe with liquidity rebates, and such economic incentives are sure to be strong drivers for growth in Japan as well. In fact, it should open the door for a totally new class of venue fee arbitrageurs to trade Japanese equities. Furthermore, domestic institutions are expected to allow smart order routing to PTSs once regulations are amended to exempt PTSs from the 5% TOB rule.
Osaka Securities Exchange’s Matthias Rietig reports on the most recent developments in order routing and algorithmic trading in Japanese equities and derivatives.
Upgrades to Japanese Exchanges
Although the Japanese markets have been fully electronic since 1999, last year’s upgrade to arrowhead by the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), as well as Osaka Securities Exchange (OSE)’s move to J-Gate, are quantum leaps in terms of performance. In OSE’s case, the move to faster technology - internal round trip times have been reduced from 60 milliseconds (ms) to below 1-2ms across all derivatives products - also paved the way for a broad revision of trading rules. All Japan-specific rules have been abolished, making way for global standard price/time First-In-First-Out based trading. This will make OSE more transparent and efficient, and hence, a fairer market.
Since Japan is one of the three largest equity markets in the world, the move towards a more globalized market structure, coupled with technology upgrades, will transform Japan into a new hot spot for High Frequency Trading (HFT). That being said, it is important for the exchanges to navigate through this paradigm shift wisely so as to not alienate the domestic user base and very active domestic retail participants. Although TSE volumes jumped about 10% after their move to arrowhead and spreads narrowed, the domestic proprietary trading houses that could not manage the very expensive transition as well as a huge decrease in profitability were driven out of the market, which resulted in a decrease of around 40% in the Japanese cash equity dealer population.
Although we see a proliferation of Multilateral Trading Facilities (MTFs / so called PTS’s in Japan), dark pools and crossing networks and the like entering the market, the liquidity from the domestic layers is still pretty sticky and has an exchange bias. That being said, even in Japan the times are changing and I expect the share of MTFs to increase steadily over time.
With the arrival of Chi-X Japan, all of the existing Proprietary Trading Systems (PTSs) reviewed their business models and it can be assumed that, due to the successful launch of arrowhead and a speed competitive main market, inter market arbitrage activity will rise. Since the Japanese exchanges are already very competitive with their pricing, the battle will be fought over value added services and features, like speed, tick sizes and access options. Overall, a decrease in trading fees can still be anticipated, which should benefit the end users.
While we do see the first signs of new growth of the PTS’s, overall volumes are still relatively small, with TSE capturing roughly 94% of the overall volumes on exchange equity cash trading, OSE about 5%, and the remaining PTS’s command a combined share of roughly 1%. It will be interesting to watch how market structure will evolve with the opening up of the JSCC, which for the first time started to serve PTS’s as a clearing house in July 2010.
Competition will increase, and although Japan is often labeled as overprotective, many domestic market participants believe it is a good development, as competition clearly cultivates services. The government, itself, is committed to induce more competition among markets to gain competitiveness in an international context and re-establish Tokyo as the financial focal point in Asia.
As the equity cash market is increasingly fragmented, the situation in the equity derivatives space is less so. OSE occupies the major chunk of Japanese equity index futures trading, the most prominent being the Japanese benchmark index Nikkei 225, through the Nikkei Mini Futures, which is one of the ten most actively traded index futures contracts, globally． Furthermore, OSE occupies a 100% share in Japanese Equity Index Options.
Although overall volumes went south for most of the other Japanese derivatives exchanges for the last couple of years, trading volume increased for five consecutive years. The newly launched J-Gate derivatives platform in Tokyo aims to make the overall market proposition of Japan more cost efficient and attractive. Located in the same data center as TSE as well as some PTS’s, J-Gate will hopefully benefit from cross connectivity, analogous to the US and European markets.
Smart order routing and algorithmic trading
Smart order routing (SOR) has been gaining traction in the last few years, and the launch of more sophisticated trading platforms, as well as the overall increase of sophistication of the buy-side, should further facilitate this trend. Although adoption by the international buy-side is already relatively widely implemented, the domestic layer has been more prudent to adopt SOR. In any case, it can be expected that the domestic players will catch up quickly, as they are currently screening the market to be ready once the overall liquidity on the PTS’s increases.