Trader Talk

IPO halted in trading debut

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange reacts to an announcement from the Federal Reserve during the afternoon of March 19, 2014.
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We saw something fairly unusual for an IPO this morning: A trading halt.

Energous (WATT), which develops wire-free charging technology, priced four million shares at $6, then opened at $9.50 around 10:25 a.m. ET. It went to $10.79 at 10:29 a.m. ET, then was halted at 10:31 a.m. ET at $9.02, because it tripped a circuit breaker that says if a stock moves more than 10 percent in five minutes, it's halted for five minutes.

I am a big supporter of circuit breakers, which were initiated after the Flash Crash in 2010. But in the case of an IPO, many market watchers, including Eric Scott Hunsader at Nanex, believe that it may be better to be a little more liberal with them. Perhaps double the trading bands to a 20 percent move in five minutes before a trading halt is called.