NYSE Invokes Rule 48 in Anticipation of Rough Trading

Ahead of the start of trading today, the New York Stock Exchange invoked its relatively new “Rule 48” in hopes of smoother trading at the bell.

So is Rule 48 about checking to the head with a hockey stick or decreeing that if it exists, there’s porn of it? Actually, the trading rule, which was created in December of 2007, covers what information must be released before the bell and suspends normal guidelines. MarketWatch explains:

Rule 48 allows designated market makers on the NYSE to refrain from disseminating price indications ahead of the opening bell. The procedure makes it easier and faster to open stocks on days when trading could be rough… NYSE invoked the rule on multiple occasions last month amid turbulent market conditions, a time when the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched four consecutive 400-point swings for the first time in its 115-year history.

Even the extraordinary measures failed to ensure an easy start to September in the market, after an August described as brutal- one that kicked off with the controversial decision of debt-ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade America’s AAA credit rating to AA.

The Dow Jones closed down today, losing 100.96 points (0.9%), ending at 11,139.30. It was the index’s third straight day of losses, although late-day rebounds cushioned the blow for investors. S&P 500 was down 8.73 points at the bell (0.7%), at 1,165.24. The Nasdaq Composite fell 6.5 points (0.3%), to 2,473.83.

Among issues troubling investors include the worsening debt crisis in Europe. News on the fiscal state of Italy was downbeat, and the Swiss National Bank moved to “depress” the franc- which has been seen as a less volatile alternative to the dollar and the euro.