Dark pool volume down, shares up in 2012

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The sun did not exactly shine on dark pools last year. According to Rosenblatt Securities, daily volume on U.S. dark pools dropped 12.5 percent in 2012, to 860 million shares a day.

But there were bright spots, especially last month. The year-over-year decline fell to 2 percent in December and dark pools' share of total equities trading picked up, as volume on lit exchanges fell more sharply.

The pools' slide came as average daily market of both dark and lit equities-trading systems fell 17.6 percent to 6.5 billion. This means that dark pools accounted for 13.3 percent of all trading, up from 12.5 percent, according to Rosenblatt.

Credit Suisse Crossfinder remains the largest dark pool  with 102.4 million shares a day in volume. And yet these numbers were down 11.5 percent from a year earlier. The second place dark pool, Sigma X from Goldman Sachs, also dropped by double digits: 17.7 percent.

Declining volumes "may be forcing a change in the way institutional clients access dark pools and execution venues in general,'' says Justin Schack, managing director of Rosenblatt Securities.

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