News / Economy

NASDAQ Paralyzed by 3-hour Shutdown

Electronic billboards reflected in the windows of NASDAQ in New York, Aug. 22, 2013.
Electronic billboards reflected in the windows of NASDAQ in New York, Aug. 22, 2013.
Reuters
Trading in a large part of the U.S. stock market came to a halt for much of Thursday after an unexplained issue shut down trading of NASDAQ-listed securities, the latest black eye for the U.S. securities trading business.
 
The abrupt halt shortly after noon caused trading in shares of Apple, Google, Microsoft and more than 3,000 other U.S. companies to stop.
 
NASDAQ resumed trading at around 3:25 p.m. EDT (1925 GMT), ending a roughly 3-hour, 11-minute shutdown that was the longest in recent memory.
 
“Any brokerage firm gets paid by executing orders,” said Sal Arnuk, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey. “So yes, we are frustrated, and this hurts us, it hurts the market and it hurts public confidence.”
 
All traffic through NASDAQ had stopped at 12:14:03 p.m. (1614 GMT), and the exchange and its larger rival, NYSE Euronext's New York Stock Exchange, said all trades executed between then and 12:23:31 p.m. would stand.
 
Trading in a single stock resumed at about 3 p.m., and other stocks followed. NASDAQ's own stock, which had been up 0.8 percent prior to the halt, traded down as much as 5.4 percent after trading resumed.
 
NASDAQ blamed a problem with distributing stock price quotes for the shutdown. A source familiar with the matter described the problem as a “data feed issue.”
 
During the shutdown, trading of shares not listed on NASDAQ continued, but transactions could not be executed on the NASDAQ platform. Options trading was also halted.
 
“I can't remember this happening in recent memory,” said Christopher Nagy, president of consultancy firm KOR Trading and a former head of trading at TD Ameritrade.
 
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it was in touch with the exchanges, with Chairman Mary Jo White overseeing developments from her home office near New York City.
 
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had also been briefed about the disruption.
 
The interruption means that investors had very limited  market access to trade such familiar names as Apple Inc , Facebook Inc, Google Inc and Microsoft Corp. In all, NASDAQ lists about 3,200 shares.
 
“As we continue to eliminate human beings from the execution of security trading, this is the problem you run into,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director of Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco. “These events are going to take place, given the level of automation.”
 
Technical Glitches

The outage was the latest black eye for NASDAQ, which in May agreed to pay $10 million, the largest penalty ever levied against a stock exchange, to settle SEC civil charges over mistakes in handling the Facebook IPO.
 
James Angel, a Georgetown University finance professor who also sits on the board of rival exchange operator Direct Edge, said NASDAQ appeared to take steps to ensure that trading reopen in an orderly fashion and with correct pricing.
 
“We can live with the market being closed for a little bit, but we can't live with bad pricing,” he said. “It's far better to have the market shut down and take its time re-opening, than to have what happened with the Facebook incident... It looks like they've learned their lesson.”
 
William Lefkowitz, options strategist at National Securities in New York, said options trading in such companies as International Business Machines Corp dried up during the halt. But he said the reopening was “very orderly and liquidity is back to normal. It is almost like it did not happen.”
 
Thursday's outage was the latest high-profile glitch in U.S. stock markets.
 
On Tuesday, a technical problem at Goldman Sachs Group Inc resulted in a flood of erroneous orders being sent to U.S. equity options markets.
 
Two weeks earlier, on Aug. 6, stock exchange operator BATS Global Markets was hit with a nearly hour-long outage.
 
Last year, a trading blowup at Knight Capital Group Inc was a contributing factor to the eventual sale of that company.
 
“The frequency of technical issues affecting trading is a wake-up call to business leaders in capital markets,” said Lev Lesokhin, executive vice president of Cast, a specialist in business software analysis. “They need to carefully scrutinize the structural integrity of their software systems.”
 
Other trading venues were also affected by Thursday's outage, and several “dark pools,” which execute orders anonymously, were forced to stop trading, according to several market participants.
 
SEC
 
Thursday's outage could cause problems for NASDAQ at the SEC, which has recently cracked down on stock exchanges to beef up their compliance with regulations and make sure they are policing themselves.
 
White, who joined the regulator in April, is a NASDAQ veteran, having served on its board as recently as 2006.
 
In June, a month after NASDAQ settled with the SEC over Facebook, the Chicago Board Options Exchange was ordered to pay $6 million to settle SEC charges that it failed to properly enforce short sale rules.
 
The NYSE last year became the first exchange in SEC history to face a financial penalty after it supposedly gave some customers an “improper head start” on trading information.
 
In March, the SEC proposed rules to require exchanges and other trading platforms to be better prepared to handle major market disruptions, including those caused by technology glitches. Those reforms are still out for public comment.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.