Australia bourse suffers full-day shutdown after software glitch

Australia’s stock exchange operator has apologised to investors and other market participants for a software fault that sparked a shutdown shortly after trading began on Monday.

ASX Ltd said the problem had been identified and would be resolved in time for the market to reopen at 10am on Tuesday. It said it deeply regretted the disruption to one of Asia’s largest equity markets.

The outage coincided with the launch of a refreshed ASX Trade system, the trading platform for ASX’s equity market. ASX and its technology provider Nasdaq said a software issue had created inaccurate market data when multiple securities were traded in a single order, ASX in a statement.

“The outage falls short of the high standards we set ourselves and the standards others expect of us,” said Dominic Stevens, ASX chief executive.

“Notwithstanding the extensive testing and rehearsals, and the involvement of our technology provider, ASX accepts responsibility. The obligation to get this right and provide a reliable and resilient trading system for the market rests with us,” he said.

The system outage comes at a sensitive time for ASX, which was recently forced to delay an ambitious plan to use blockchain technology to clear and settle trades in Australian equities due to customer concerns.

The market shutdown at the start of a busy week caused chaos for investors, who were unable to trade for most of the day while the equities market hovered near an eight-month high.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 1.2 per cent at 6,484.30 when trading was suspended.

“It has been an extremely frustrating day, following confirmation that the ASX market will not open until tomorrow morning,” Niv Dagan, executive director at Peak Asset Management, a Sydney-based investment company, told the Financial Times.

His company was “using this time to speak to a number of our small-cap funds and institutional investors relating to their core positions”, he said.

The trading shutdown in Australia is the latest in a series of technical gremlins to hit global stock exchanges over recent months.

Last month, a hardware glitch caused the Tokyo Stock Exchange to suspend equity trading for a full day, its worst outage since the world’s third-biggest bourse shifted to a fully electronic system in 1999.

In August, the New Zealand stock exchange suffered four days of severe disruption when hackers targeted its website with a distributed denial of service attacks — a form of cyber assault that involves swamping a website with so many requests that genuine users cannot get access to it.

Trading in stocks and derivatives on Euronext NV markets shut down for several hours in October due to a software problem.

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