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SSI Update

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The QQQ Flash Crash From Friday That No One Is Talking About

Update #089  06/13/2017 4:40 PM EDT

The Powershares QQQ Trust (QQQ) crashed on Friday, June 9th. The $64,000 question is why haven't more people pointed out what clearly happened? 

On Friday QQQ was trading fine until about 10:15 a.m. EDT when all of a sudden it began to drop.  The price at that time was $143.84. It fell to a low on Friday of $138.11. So from the peak at 10:15 a.m. it fell 3.98%. From the low at 2:45 p.m. EDT, QQQ rebounded to close down by -2.44%.

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Typically, a couple times a year the QQQ will drop more than -2% in a single session. However, what made this so unusual was the volume associated with the drop. 

Volume for last Friday on QQQ was 104,765,166 shares. Thursday's volume was 23,137.362 shares. So the volume on Friday was 4.5X Thursday's action.

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In 2017, there has been only one day above 50 million shares on the QQQ and that was on May 17th when the QQQ fell -2.54%. The last time volume was this high was August 24,2015 when QQQ traded 145,475,800 shares.

That date was the worst drop since October of 2008.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1,000 points in early trading. For the day, the Dow lost 588 points while the QQQ lost -3.85% or $3.94.

A catalyst that day was Oil dropping under $40 a share for the first time since 2009. Also, the Chinese market was in trouble as well. The Chinese economy had fallen below a 7% growth rate. So that puts Friday's drop in context on how big volume was Friday.

What was more interesting to us was that when you looked at the underlying names in the NASDAQ 100 Index many stocks fell  much more percentage wise than the QQQ  BUT volume on these stocks was not nearly as high. How could that be?

The NASDAQ 100 Index is a modified market cap weighted index. Here are the weightings of the Top 5 % of QQQ that make up 37% of the Trust.  

Apple (AAPL) is 11.60% of the weighting. Microsoft (MSFT) is 8.20%. Amazon (AMZN) is 7.00% . Facebook (FB) is 5.31% and Google (GOOG) is 4.97%.

Upon review the above volume charts, none of these names had unusual volume that was 2X the highest amount seen for the year or 4.5X Thursday's volume. So how could QQQ have such crazy volume yet the top names did not have the same volume but they had even bigger intraday price drops?

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Amazon intraday traded from a peak of $1012 to a low of $927 before closing at $978.31. The range was a drop of -8.4% before closing down -3.13%. 

Facebook (FB) intraday traded from a peak of $155.59 to a low of $146.61 before closing at $149.63. The range was a drop of -5.77% before closing down -3.28%. 

The other stocks mentioned above in the QQQ had similar stats for Friday. So why did the top stocks in the QQQ drop much greater than the QQQ? 

The answer is pretty simple. Passive investing has decreased liquidity which will create more volatile days on the underlying names in an ETF when a monster fund, group of funds or someone that influences many decides to hit the exit button causing volume to surge and impacting the top underlying names even more than the ETF.

So it becomes incumbent on investors to understand how their positions could be impacted as "passive investors" who are really active investors close out their "passive" security at the same time creating potential intraday or several days of chaotic trading.