Trading frenzy ahead on Russell rebalancing?

Expect a busy trading session thanks to the annual rebalancing of the FTSE Russell US indices. According to The Wall Street Journal, the first few seconds of trading on the day of the reconstitution last year saw around $100 billion in stock trades.

The US benchmarks have been updated to ensure the correct weighting, which means some stocks will be dropped and others added. These stocks can see a flurry of activity, with traders dumping the excluded stocks and snapping up the newest Russell constituents. However, fresh inclusions and exclusions are often easy to predict and telegraphed well in advance.

Fund managers will need to rebalance their portfolios – it is estimated that index funds tracking Russell benchmarks will need readjusting to the tune of $170 billion to keep themselves aligned with the reshuffled indices. $9 trillion is pegged to the US benchmarks in total.

The Russell recon has a bigger impact than other index reshuffles because it happens annually, compared to the quarterly rebalancing undertaken by other indices like the Dow, FTSE and DAX.

Rebalancing is a long process, and today marks the end. The conclusion of the Russell adjustments is often one of the highest volume trading days each year.