A "serious" technical issue in the NASDAQ stock exchange's IT systems halted trading for three hours yesterday, with the effects of the suspension felt in stock markets throughout the world.
NASDAQ, the world's second largest stock exchange after the New York Stock Exchange, interrupted trading at just after midday Eastern US time Thursday and trading resumed at half past three following problems with systems that disseminate share prices.
This failure, the latest in a string of technical glitches to hit stock exchanges around the world, prompted the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to release a statement promising action to strengthen the computer systems of the country's stock exchanges:
"Today's interruption in trading, while resolved before the end of the day, was nonetheless serious and should reinforce our collective commitment to addressing technological vulnerabilities of exchanges and other market participants," said SEC chair Mary Jo White.
"I will work to advance rules that the Commission proposed earlier this year regarding new standards for the trading and other systems that are central to the integrity of our markets," she added.
White also confirmed that she would be holding a meeting with the leaders of other stock exchanges to "accelerate ongoing efforts to further strengthen" the markets.
The New York Times reported that not only did the problems affect the NASDAQ, but also caused investors to "step back cautiously", with traders unwilling to trade while "in the dark" about prices on the hobbled stock exchange. The NASDAQ deals with the stocks of major technology companies including Apple, Microsoft and Google.
This is the latest in a long line of technical glitches affecting major stock exchanges, highlighting the impact and reliance of IT on these critical trading hubs. In July, the NASDAQ community forum came under attack, with hackers skimming passwords of users.
Last year, NASDAQ suffered at the hands of Facebook as the social networking giant's initial public offering (IPO) was delayed following a technical problem. The problem cost NASDAQ more than $70m in compensation and reimbursements.
Outside of the US, a DDoS attack on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2011 resulted in multiple stocks being removed from trading.
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