Nasdaq Back Online After Longest Outage In Recent Memory

on August 22 2013 10:00 PM
Commuters pass by Nasdaq headquarters in New York.
People walk by Nasdaq headquarters in New York. REUTERS

The Nasdaq stock exchange was back up and running on Thursday after a technical outage left the country’s second-largest market unusable for three hours.

According to Reuters, the shutdown began at approximately 12:15 p.m. EDT, shutting down the trade of more than 3,200 companies including Apple, Facebook and Google. Three hours and 11 minutes later, Nasdaq officials managed to restore the system, putting an end to the largest market shutdown in recent memory.

Officials blamed the shutdown on a “connectivity issue” between an exchange participant and the company’s Securities Information Processor (SIP), which consolidates stock prices. As a result of the error, the SIP ceased sending out price quotes for stocks. Nasdaq officials say that they were able to fix the underlying technical issues within 30 minutes, but had to wait longer to ensure an orderly resumption of services. The exchange says it will work on ensuring that such problems do not occur in the future.

"Nasdaq OMX will work with other exchanges that are members of the SIP to investigate the issues of today, and we will support any necessary steps to enhance the platform," Nasdaq said in a statement.

Still, that knowledge has done little to soothe the minds of traders who lost valuable time during the outage.

"Any brokerage firm gets paid by executing orders," said Arnuk, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, N.J., told Reuters. "So yes, we are frustrated, and this hurts us, it hurts the market and it hurts public confidence."

This is not the first time that Nasdaq has suffered serious technical problems. When Facebook began its IPO back in May 2012, Nasdaq suffered serious trading problems, including delays and errors with quote systems. Furthermore, NASDAQ has suffered two serious power outages at the hands of squirrels -- once in 1987 and again in 1994. For such a tech-focused exchange, NASDAQ’s huge outage has sowed seeds of doubt in many traders’ minds.  

"It's the ultimate embarrassment, because it's supposed to be the technology exchange," Chicago Securities Attorney Andrew Stoltmann told USA Today. "When the Nasdaq paid a $10 million fine over the Facebook IPO, it claimed new systems were in place to prevent those glitches."

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