Stock Market Blitz Shakes Systems

FRAMINGHAM (04/10/2000) - Three of the world's largest stock exchanges suffered from unrelated computer problems last week during heavy trading.

The London Stock Exchange was hardest hit, with an eight-hour outage last Wednesday. The exchange opened at 3:45 p.m. London time, rather than the usual 8 a.m., but hours were extended from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The exchange didn't say how much revenue was lost as a result of the outage.

The problem occurred with the network that takes real-time price and other information from the central trading systems to market users, according to Gavin Casey, CEO of the London Stock Exchange, in a statement.

That same day, a system glitch at the Toronto Stock Exchange prevented the usual extra half-hour of trading from 4 to 4:30 p.m. That's when traders buy and sell stocks at closing prices and tie up loose ends.

The exchange shut down at 3:58 p.m., and although the problem was fixed immediately, officials decided to cancel the extra half-hour because traders hadn't been able to complete their orders within the last minute of trading.

"It was a software issue," said Steve Kee, a spokesman at the exchange. As of Thursday afternoon, however, the exact cause of the problem hadn't been determined.

The Nasdaq Stock Market was able to keep functioning all week but it experienced an hour-long slowdown due to a high volume of trading on Tuesday, the day after the verdict was released in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case .

Nasdaq trading volume on April 4 was almost 2.9 billion shares, compared with the previous record of 2.2 billion shares on March 1.

It was the record volume that caused the slowdown, as the exchange had to shift from one computerized order file to another and reboot the system.

The problem was resolved, and the exchange will be able to make the transition smoothly if a similar situation comes up again, according to Nasdaq spokeswoman Judy Inosanto.

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