Where Has All the Trading Gone? Volume Hits 4-Year Low

It’s one of the biggest mysteries on Wall Street. How can stocks be in their fourth year of a bull market and trading activity be so low, CNBC questions?

During March, average daily volume in equity shares was at their lowest level since December 2007, according to new data from Credit Suisse. This is the same month that marked the three-year anniversary of the bull market that caused the Standard & Poor’s 500 to double from its March 2009 credit-crisis low.

Credit Suisse tried to solve the riddle by blaming the growing popularity of options and futures markets, a drop in high frequency trading and stock splits.

“There’s no way to sugar-coat it: Volumes are down and trending lower,” wrote Ana Avramovic of Credit Suisse, in a note to clients. “A growing preference for other asset classes may be drawing money away from equities.”

Daily equity volume in March was 6.59 billion shares a day, the lowest since a sub-6 billion volume month in December 2007, according to Credit Suisse. (The firm adjusted December 2011’s low figures to account for the holiday-skewed week.)

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