Robinhood sends market volatility warning to brokerage app users

Robinhood now ‘restricting transactions for certain securities’

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Asian shares skidded on Thursday as a reality check set in about longtime economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, giving Wall Street its worst day since October. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Asian shares skidded on Thursday as a reality check set in about longtime economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, giving Wall Street its worst day since October. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Robinhood is warning its brokerage app users about “market volatility” while small-pocket investors continued their battle with the big players on Wall Street by pouring money into companies like GameStop and AMC.

Friday morning update: Robinhood lifts some restrictions on buying Reddit-driven GameStop, AMC stocks

NEW: Robinhood appears to halt support on Reddit-driven GameStop, AMC stocks

Robinhood is one of the more popular apps for the casual, or newbie, investors to use. Easy-access trading apps like it are at the center of the war between groups of small investors communicating on social media and Wall Street short sellers. While the short sellers banked on stocks like GameStop to fall, the small investors have teamed up to make sure the stock rises -- for how long is to be seen. A similar trend is happening with other stocks such as AMC.

So far, the big bets the Wall Street pros made that GameStop’s stock would fall went wrong, leaving them facing billions of dollars in collective losses. This action pushed GameStop’s stock as high as $380 on Wednesday, up from $18 just a few weeks ago.

Here’s the note from Robinhood on Thursday morning:

We wanted to reach out to you in the midst of the current volatile market conditions. It’s as important as ever to be an informed investor.

Whether you’re brand new to Robinhood or have been investing with us for years, we have lots of resources to help you navigate the markets, including Investing 101 and our entire Help Center.

Here are some specific articles from Robinhood Learn to help make sense of market volatility:

-- The stock market has been super volatile – How can I make sense of it?

-- Volatility explained

As always, thank you for being a Robinhood customer.

Sincerely,

The Robinhood Team

UPDATE: Robinhood now ‘restricting transactions for certain securities’

Later Thursday morning, Robinhood posted a blog update for customers titled “Keeping Customers Informed Through Market Volatility” explaining it is, in fact, “restricting transactions for certain securities to position closing only” -- here it is:

“We continuously monitor the markets and make changes where necessary. In light of recent volatility, we are restricting transactions for certain securities to position closing only, including $AMC, $BB, $BBBY, $EXPR, $GME, $KOSS, $NAKD and $NOK. We also raised margin requirements for certain securities.

Amid significant market volatility, it’s important as ever that we help customers stay informed. That’s why we’re committed to providing people with educational resources. We recently revamped and expanded Robinhood Learn to help people take advantage of the hundreds of financial resources we offer and educate themselves, including how to make sense of a volatile market. In 2020, more than 3.2 million people read our articles through Robinhood Learn.”

‘Integrity of the market’

Danilo Kawasaki, COO of Gerber Kawasaki, spoke on TD Ameritrade’s morning call Thursday about how this entire battle between small investors and Wall Street short sellers impacts the “integrity of the market.”

“It impacts the integrity of the market, and we need confidence from investors to maintain an orderly market,” he said. “But on the other side, my colleagues here are saying this is an opportunity for the small guy, for the little guy, to kind of stick it to the big guys.”

On Wednesday morning, users trying to access their stock brokerage accounts as the market opened were faced with a debilitating “technical problem” that shut many out of their accounts.

Robinhood and TD Ameritrade were among the brokerages that reportedly experienced “technical difficulties” at open. The apps were unresponsive.

Read more: In duel with small investors over GameStop, big funds blink


About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.