Citi bond deals raise doubts about future of electronic trading

Citi bond deals raise doubts about future of electronic trading

MTS, the European electronic fixed income network, is contemplating the introduction of permanent caps on liquidity after a series of rapid-fire transactions by Citigroup last week exposed fault-lines in the market.

The government bond trading market was thrown into confusion last Tuesday as Citigroup pushed through a total of EUR11 billion in paper sales in two minutes over the MTS platform. As the value of futures contracts pegged to the bond market went into freefall and traders moved to cover their positions, Citigroup moved back into the market and bought back about EUR4 billion of the paper at cheaper prices.

In the immediate aftermath of the sale, MTS moved to impose temporary limits on the value and volume any one dealer can push through the system at a time.

The dealings have provoked doubts within the markets about the wisdom of moving more fixed income business to electronic platforms, where the size and speed of processing can have short-term knock-on effects to market-wide pricing and stability.

A group of primary dealers are understood to be meeting today to discuss the ramfications of last week's events, while MTS says it will reconsider the emergency restrictions at next month's board meeting.

Citigroup has declined to comment on the transactions.

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