12th February 2021

North America

U.S. volumes near panic highs due to stock trading fever

The craze in US equities trading shows no signs of abating and looks set to surpass levels seen during the worst of the panic pandemic in March.

Volumes in Washington are nearing their maximum during the pandemic crisis.

In the past 20 days, about 15.8 billion shares have been traded each day on all US exchanges. That's just below the March 25 average of 16.1 billion views, which was the highest on at least more than a decade, the data shows.

Bursts of US stock trading typically come amid periods of increasing volatility in markets, such as the spike seen early last year when fears about the spread of the coronavirus led to a strong sell-off of stocks. This time around, the volatility is much more subdued, suggesting that the jump in trading activity is one more sign of exuberance in the stock market.

The S&P 500 Index has risen more than 4% so far this year and closed at a record high on Thursday.

The skyrocketing rise last month and the rapid collapse of GameStop Corp. shares appear to have done little to curb enthusiasm for equity exposure. A similar measure of euphoria in the options market, the volume of bullish bets via call options, has hit another record high.

"We are seeing so many signs of frantic speculation," said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone Group Ltd. "This is part of the retail explosion."