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U.S. firms are on track to buy back a record amount of their own stock this year, but a decades-old markets rule aimed at preventing manipulation makes these trades easy to game and has probably cost companies billions in recent years.Under a condition of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Rule 10b-18, companies must bid to buy back their stock at the last purchase price set by another investor or at the best bid available in the market. But they cannot buy shares at the best offer available, because that could cause the company's shares to move and be deemed manipulative.
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