Nanex ~ 05-Nov-2013 ~ I'd Like to Sell $685 Million of Natural Gas
On November 5, 2013 at 9:41:05 ET, a monster 20,000 contracts to sell Natural Gas (NYMEX:
NG3Z) futures contracts at one price level ($3.426) suddenly appeared, causing an immediate
drop in price. This large sell order gradually disappeared over the next 5 minutes.
Only 322 contracts traded at $3.426 during that time.
Normally there are less than 100 contracts to buy or sell the active Natural Gas futures
contract at one price level.
One NYMEX Natural Gas futures contract is for delivery of 10,000 mmBtu (10,000 million
Btu) of energy, which is approximately 10 million cubic feet (280,000 cubic meters)
of gas. At a price of $3.426, one futures contract is worth $34,260 which makes this
sell order of 20,000 contracts worth $685 million in natural gas.
The sudden appearance of a large number of futures contracts to buy or sell at one price
level is a tell-tale sign of one type of manipulative algo found and fined by the CFTC. Note the similar pattern we recently found
in Crude Oil futures. This large sell order could very well be part of a manipulation
strategy designed to fool other
algos and traders into thinking there was a real, sudden
imbalance in the supply and demand of Natural Gas futures. This would cause a drop in
the price of the Natural Gas contract, which is exactly what
Looking closer at how the depth of book increased and decreased, it appears that this
large 20,000 contract sell order was actually comprised of about 2,500 individual orders,
each order for 8 contracts. All at limit price of $3.426. The first chart below shows
how the number of contracts to sell at $3.426 changed over the period of time of this
event. Note the rapid appearance (less than a third of a second). Almost every addition
of sell orders at $3.426 was a multiple of 8 contracts: 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56,
64, 72, 80, 96, 104, 112, 120, 128 and so on up to 344. Since order book depth changes
are a series of snap-shots, multiple order adds/delete in rapid succession can appear
as one update: meaning that the additions could very well have been 8 contracts at a
time, but show up as multiples of 8.
The cancellation of these 20,000 contracts came in several bursts. There were 2,543
decreases of sell orders of exactly 8 contracts.
Only 322 of the 20,000 contracts for sale traded at $3.426.
1. Total size (in contracts) of sell orders at $3.426 in December 2013 Natural
Gas (NG) futures depth of book.
The increase from 0 to 20,000 took about 1/3 of a second. Most of the increases were
multiples of 8.
The drop from 20,000 to zero took about 5 minutes and was made up (mostly) of 2,543
changes of 8 contracts each.
2. December 2013 Natural Gas (NG) Futures Depth of Book (how
A monster 20,000 contract sell order appears, then slowly fades away over a period of
3. Zooming in on Chart 2 when the huge order appears.
It was not one order, but was made up of over 2,500 orders of 8 lots each. Very few
4. Zooming in on Chart 2 when huge order disappears.
Very few contracts executed from these extremely large (20,000 contract) sell order.
5. December 2013 eMini (ES) Futures Depth of Book (how
Probably unrelated to the Natural Gas event, but this occurred less than 30 minutes
Note the red speckles - large orders suddenly appear and disappear. See
this page with more examples and a detailed explanation.