TMX DataLinx: "Last" != "Close"

Like the old man said … “If you go out and buy financial data and you assume something, you make an ASS out of U and ME both.”

Assiduous Readers will recall that on December 2 I reported a stupid quote for GWO.PR.J and indulged in a rant; I also sent a note of inquiry to the TSX:

According to information reported on TMXMoney.com for December 2, GWO.PR.J traded 2,831 shares in a range of 27.41-64 and the last of the eleven trades was at 3:33pm. The closing quote was 24.81-27.54, 4×9.

I have four questions that arise from the closing quotation:

i) Who is the market-maker for this security?

ii) Will the TMX be investigating the circumstances that led to this ridiculous closing quote?

iii) Will the TMX be announcing the results of such an investigation?

iv) Will the TMX be implementing any sanctions against the market maker for this security?

I eventually received a reply:

A closing quote is considered to be the quote at the close of the regular trading session at 4pm. Market Maker responsibilities end at 4pm. The actual closing quote at 4pm on Dec.2 for this issue was 27.04 – 27.54.

After frothing at the mouth a bit, I sent the following eMail to my data provider, TMX DataLinx, who get a fat cheque every month for providing me with data:

As you will be aware, I have been a purchaser of your historical data for about ten years; and was a customer prior to then through my previous employer, Greydanus Boeckh & Associates Inc.

Amongst the data I purchase from you are the “last bid price” and the “last ask price”.

On December 2, 2010, you reported to me that these values were 24.81 and 27.54 for GWO.PR.J.

An inquiry to the exchange regarding this quote elicited the information that “A closing quote is considered to be the quote at the close of the regular trading session at 4pm. Market Maker responsibilities end at 4pm. The actual closing quote at 4pm on Dec.2 for this issue was 27.04 – 27.54.” as shown in the forwarded eMail, below.

(i) What is the difference between the data you have been selling me and the “closing quote”?

(ii) How may I purchase the “closing quote” from you?

Finally, after a fair number of reminders, a few telephone conversations and a conference call, I have sent the following eMail to the Product Manager at TMX DataLinx:

I write to you to request a new product be made available for data download through your “TMX DataLinx Market Data” facility.

This product would be accessed by entering the password-protected page http://marketdata.tsx.com/MOTD/ clicking “Custom Queries”, “New Query” and “Stock Prices” (or, after the first run, via “Saved Queries”).

Options for “Closing Bid” and “Closing Ask” would be added to the list of “Data Items”.

These data would provide the last quotation of the day at which one board lot of the security in question could be transacted; i.e. a snapshot of the market quotation immediately before the close of the regular trading session.

They would be distinct from the extant “Last Bid” and “Last Ask” data items currently available, since these two items represent the quotation at the end of the extended trading session. They will not necessarily reflect the market quotation at the close of the regular trading session since:
(i) Orders in the book at the close of the regular trading session may have been cancelled in the interim
(ii) Orders entered in the interim will not be included in the book unless they are at the Last Sale Price; they will be rejected by the Exchange.

It has been suggested that I could recover these data by clicking “Trades and Quotes” instead of “Custom Queries” and downloading the file for a period of time near the close. The “Closing Bid” and “Closing Ask” could then be determined through inspection of the downloaded data.

Such a solution is not practical because:
(i) Time resolution in this facility is limited to increments of one minute. There could, conceivably, be thousands of quotes for each security during this time frame and the cost of these data could be enormous
(ii) Data will only be recovered if the quote changes during the specified time. Thus, for some subset of the security list not known in advance, a prior time increment would need to be queried, which, in addition to being time consuming, would still bring with it the risk of enormous cost as specified in objection (i).

Therefore, I request that the “Closing Bid” and “Closing Ask”, which would together comprise the last quotation of the day at which an investor could execute at least one board lot on either side during the regular trading session, be made available as downloadable data under the same terms and conditions as your extant “Last Bid” and “Last Ask” data items.

I venture to suggest that most purchasers of the “Last Bid” and “Last Ask” data (including myself, until recently!) are under the impression that they are, in fact, purchasing the “Closing Bid” and “Closing Ask”. If you should find a customer who is not only aware of the difference, but prefers the “Last Bid” and “Last Ask” data, I would very much appreciate it if you could ask him to call me (416 604 4204) and explain, since I can see no possible use for these items which do not necessarily represent actionable bids and offers.

Prior correspondene on this issue is appended to this eMail

I don’t think I’m the only one who does not appreciate the difference between “Last” and “Close”; this is particularly important at this time of the year, when funds are required to provide a reconciliation between their normal method of reporting NAV and the new standards, as elucidated in the 2009 Financial Statements for PIC:

Net Assets per unit is the difference between the aggregate value of the assets of the Fund and the aggregate value of the liabilities excluding Preferred shares of the Fund on that date and including the valuation of securities at bid prices divided by the number of units then outstanding. For years prior to 2007, securities were valued at closing prices. The change to the use of bid prices is due to accounting standards set out by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants adopted November 1, 2007 relating to Financial Instruments.

The Fund has adopted, effective November 1, 2008, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (“CICA”) amendments to Handbook Section 3862, “Financial Instruments – Disclosures”. The revised disclosure requirements are intended to improve disclosures about fair value and liquidity risk. The amendments establish a three-tier hierarchy as a framework for disclosing fair value based on inputs used to value the Fund’s investments. The hierarchy of inputs is summarized below: (1) Level 1 – for unadjusted quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities

Securities are valued at fair value, which is determined by the closing bid price on the recognized stock exchange on which the securities are listed or principally traded. If no bid prices are available, the securities are valued at the closing sale price.

These rules have been discussed by Price-Waterhouse.

Naturally, it may be that I am the only investment manager in the world to have made this error. But, given the ubiquitous nature of the “Last Bid” and “Last Ask” on the web (fed to QuoteStream, for instance, which republishes it on the TSX’s own TMX Money website), I’ll bet I have lots of company.

Fortunately, this can only have a positive effect on the presumed efficiency of the HIMIPref™ simulations, which define the parameterization of the analytics; the programme sells at the presumed bid and buys at the offer; in nearly all cases the “Last” will be worse than the “Close” – the only exception will be when the Last Sale Price is the bid (ask) at the close and becomes the ask (bid) at the end of the extended session. Thus, simulations may have executed notional trades at worse prices than those actually available, or have missed opportunities; both of which will have resulted in underestimation of the value of the analytics.

For your further reading pleasure, here are some extracts from the TSX Trading Rules:

Rule 4-901 states:

Rule 4-901 General Provisions (Amended)
(1) All listed securities shall be eligible for trading during the Special Trading Session, provided that a MOC Security shall not be eligible for trading until the completion of the Closing Call in respect of that MOC Security.
(2) Except as otherwise provided, all transactions in the Special Trading Session shall be at the Last Sale Price for each security.
(3) Except as otherwise provided, the normal rules of priority and allocation and all other Exchange Requirements shall apply to the Special Trading Session.

Amended (March 29, 2004)

Rule 1-101 states:

“Last Sale Price” means:
(a) in respect of a MOC Security, the calculated closing price; and
(b) in respect of any other listed security, the last board lot sale price of the security on the Exchange in the Regular Session.
Amended (March 10, 2006)

Update, 2010-12-23: I do not believe that the extended session (whence the “last bid” and “last ask” quotes are obtained) meets the CICA definition of an active market:

[CICA Handbook] Para. 3855.A44. “A financial instrument is regarded as quoted in an active market when quoted prices are readily and regularly available from an exchange, dealer, broker, industry group, pricing service or regulatory agency, and those prices reflect actual and regularly occurring market transactions on an arm’s length basis. Fair value is defined in terms of a price agreed upon by a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction. The objective of determining fair value for an instrument that is traded in an active market is to arrive at the price at which a transaction would occur at the balance sheet date in that instrument (i.e., without repackaging the instrument) in the most advantageous active market for that instrument to which the entity has immediate access. The existence of published price quotations in an active market is the best evidence of fair value, and when they exist they are used to measure the financial asset or financial liability.”

The “last” quotes do not reflect “actual and regularly occurring” (or even possible) market transactions, since any transactions in the extended session must occur at the Last Sale Price.

4 Responses to “TMX DataLinx: "Last" != "Close"”

  1. GAndreone says:

    Hi James,

    Perhaps both the accountants and the exchanges could consider the weighted average trading price as a more reasonable valuation metric for the value of a stock on a particular day. Since I am responsible to no one other then myself, that is the metric I use.

    Using the last bid price can have misleading results. Let say someone wanted to support their balance sheet they could leave an order to buy 100 shares and it may stick since a lot of orders are pulled at 4:00 pm.

  2. jiHymas says:

    Let say someone wanted to support their balance sheet they could leave an order to buy 100 shares and it may stick since a lot of orders are pulled at 4:00 pm.

    The boys from Burlington got into trouble for that, as discussed on December 20.

    The trouble with your suggestion is that it would leave the regulators with fewer rules to enforce, thus threatening both their employment and their ability to get jobs with the regulated upon retirement.

  3. […] worse, the last bid price on this issue declined from 20.52 on December 30 to 19.91 on December 31, a decline of 2.97% on the […]

  4. […] the post TMX “Last” != “Close” I pointed out that the data published all over the web overnight does not actually represent […]

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