SEC suspends trading in social media OTC stock targets

The SEC flexes muscle in social media trading frenzy

With market volatility swirling around the so-called "meme stocks" such as GameStop, the Securities and Exchange Commission is taking action against a smaller basket of names.

On Friday, regulators suspended trading in a handful of over-the-counter (OTC) stocks, that may have been targets of social media players trying to artificially pump up the stock price. These OTC or "penny stocks" are typically companies that don't meet New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq listing standards and are often sold through a network of broker-dealers.

"We proactively monitor for suspicious trading activity tied to stock promotions on social media, and act quickly to stop that trading when appropriate to safeguard the public interest. We also remind investors to exercise caution and do their diligence before investing generally, including in companies promoted on social media" said Melissa Hodgman, Acting Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement in a statement.

AMID GAMESTOP CRAZE, BIDEN'S SEC NOMINEE GARY GENSLER GETS HEARING DATE

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GYOG QUASAR AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES INC 0.0005 +0.00 +25.00%
HLXW HELIX WIND CORP 0.0003 +0.00 +0.00%
IPWG INTERNATIONAL POWER GROUP LTD 0.0003 +0.00 +50.00%

The 15 OTC securities, which are considered speculative in nature regardless, include little-known companies such as Green Energy Enterprises Inc., Helix Wind Corp., and International Power Group Ltd. to name a few.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMC AMC ENTERTAINMENT HOLDINGS INC 8.84 +0.22 +2.55%
BBBY BED BATH & BEYOND, INC. 27.93 -1.57 -5.32%
NOK NOKIA OYJ 4.13 +0.06 +1.47%

While the list doesn't include the heavily shorted names dominating the headlines, regulators signaled more actions may lie ahead.

DID THE GAMESTOP CFO RESIGN OR WAS HE PUSHED OUT?

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GME GAMESTOP 140.99 -0.10 -0.07%

"The SEC continues to review market and trading data to identify other securities where the public interest and the protection of investors require trading suspensions," it said.

WHY GAMESTOP SHARES SURGED SUDDENLY

The regulatory action comes as GameStop shares saw another week of heavy volatility as the company's CFO resigned.

The move also comes as President Biden's pick to head the SEC, Gary Gensler, prepares for his confirmation hearing next week.