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Nasdaq Markets Halt Trading: Processor Issues Cited

TMCnet Feature

August 22, 2013

Nasdaq Markets Halt Trading: Processor Issues Cited

By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

All trading on the Nasdaq exchange has halted, reports indicated, due to a set of processor issues that were affecting the dissemination of stock value quotes. Impacted in the trading situation were several major tech firms, but what was behind it all? Perhaps more ominously, some are asking, is there any connection between this outage and the outage of several other major tech properties in the last several days, like that of Google's outage?

The message came out a little after noon Eastern time, and a spokesman with the SEC (News - Alert) said that officials were “monitoring the situation and are in close contact with the exchanges.” Further, Nasdaq officials indicated that no open orders would be canceled before trading re-opened, though those who wished to cancel trades and keep out of the re-opening should do so before trading restarts. Finally, Nasdaq noted that all “stale quotes from the UTP SIP” would be cleared before trading restarted. 

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The Nasdaq options market also had a contribution in all this, issuing a “system update” saying that firms should route open orders to other facilities. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) issued a somewhat terse notice of its own, saying that all trading in Nasdaq securities had been halted, at Nasdaq's request, and orders were canceled accordingly. The NYSE wouldn't comment beyond that, however, leaving one very big hole in the operation: the simple question of why such trading would be shut down in the middle of a trading day.

This was a question that led TMCNet's Rich Tehrani to notice a little something going on in the wider arena. Specifically, he noted that, in the last several days, not only had one of the biggest search engines on Earth in the form of Google (News - Alert) gone down, but so too had one of the biggest online marketplaces in Amazon, and now just to top it all off, so too had the Nasdaq exchange.

It's easy enough to shrug off one of these. It's a big happening, make no mistake, but mistakes happen. Errors strike. A server gets overloaded and the next thing that happens, boom, no Google for a while. Or no Amazon. No one's immune to these things, as much as we may not like it when it happens. Even the gold standard of availability is only five-nines, or 99.999 percent uptime. That's a whole .001 downtime that shows up from time to time.

But what Tehrani noticed—and it's not hard to see this—is how three major services just went down, one right after the next, in the space of about a week or so. It's hard to say just what, if anything, is connecting all these outages together. Are all of these outages coincidences? Or is something else going on here?

It's hard to say, frankly, but whatever is going on, it's posing a lot of inconvenience for a lot of people, and it may well be worse before it gets better. It's certainly worth keeping a closer eye on; after all, one or two may be a coincidence, but when three—or potentially more!—start showing up, that's a cause for concern on several levels.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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