September's stock selloff was hard on securities firms, putting a big damper on the lucrative business of new issues at many shops. However, the one silver lining is that it got trading desks hopping again.
The TMX Group, which runs most of the big equity markets in Canada, reported sharply higher trading activity in September. At all of the company's markets, volume was up 18 per cent from August and 7 per cent from September, 2013. Given that brokerages get paid for trading on a per-share basis, that means the tills were ringing faster on trading desks all across the industry.
Toronto Stock Exchange volume soared 26 per cent from August and 7 per cent from September, 2013. Even the junior market saw an increase, rising 7 per cent from September, 2013. It wasn't just cash equities either. Volume on the derivatives-focused Montreal Exchange jumped 17 per cent from August and 9 per cent from the year-ago period.
Even with the strong September, it's been a pretty weak year for equity trading volumes. TMX's markets are down slightly in aggregate equities volume so far in 2014. That's after a few years of steady declines.
So while September was definitely more active, it's hardly a sign of a turnaround in cash-equities volumes. However, it's at least a slight bright side to an otherwise tough month.