Reddit-Fueled Traders Trigger Volatility Halts Across Market

About 44 circuit-breaker halts were triggered in the first two hours of trading Wednesday amid the rapid ascension of amateur investors armed with Robinhood and their favorite social media platforms.

From cult-favorite GameStop Corp. to stereo headphone and loudspeaker retailer Koss Corp., trading volume soared as gains and losses fluctuated by the minute.

Day traders have taken to online forums like Reddit, posting bullish touts to encourage others to join an epic retail frenzy that has tested the mettle of short sellers. Reddit is also routinely used to drive up penny stocks that, unlike GameStop, have ceased publishing financial results and don’t trade on regulated exchanges.

Reddit-Fueled Traders Trigger Volatility Halts Across Market

Volatility halts are relatively common for small stocks that are surging or tumbling and are used by exchanges to help smooth rapid movement in either direction and prevent flash crashes. They are often done to force traders to digest the news and recalibrate their trades over the typical five-minute pause.

Online brokerages including Robinhood Markets and Charles Schwab Corp. were hit again Wednesday by service disruptions as traders were transfixed by wild swings in shares of GameStop Corp. and other heavily shorted stocks. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., Morgan Stanley’s E*Trade and Fidelity were also affected, according to Downdetector.com, which tracks user complaints.

GameStop shares, which soared as much as 157% Wednesday, were halted at least twice, while movie theater company AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. triggered four halts as it more than quadrupled on volume that was roughly 13 times the three-month average.

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