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Trading volume on Hong Kong’s opaque privately owned stock exchanges known as “dark pools” has fallen precipitously since new regulations mandating greater transparency were put in place earlier this month, according to official data. Companies must now disclose details of transactions that take place on these exchanges. Due to these requirements, many investors have switched over to competing markets, leading to an overall decrease in volume trading volume.
The new rules also restrict the number of dark pools where companies can trade, and require that they meet various reporting standards. If firms fail to comply, penalties could include being barred from trading entirely.
Even with warnings in mind, some analysts remain convinced that the new rules are insufficient to stem the rise of dark pools. According to them, more needs to be done to make exchanges more transparent and regulators must adopt additional measures against dark pool proliferation.
Concerns have also been expressed that the new rules could have the opposite of their intended impact, for example if regulations become too stringent, it could increase market volatility, harm investor trust and lead to lower investment returns. This could cause more people to look for alternative investments, like Hongkong pools. But regulators insist they have taken the necessary measures to prevent this from occurring. They have stated that they will closely monitor the situation and impose stringent measures as necessary. Later this year, regulators plan on reviewing the regulatory framework for dark pools including introducing a licensing system for brokers and traders which they hope will enhance transparency while helping increase market efficiency. They will also assess whether additional regulation strengthens should be added for dark pools to enhance investor protection.