ASX glitch halts trading

The ASX's automated trading system was shut down for three hours yesterday after a software failure just a few minutes after the market opening. SEATS failed just as the exchange was half-way through the alphabetical roll-out and remained offline until after 1.00pm EST, leaving brokers across Australia twiddling their thumbs.

ASX spokesman Gervase Greene said the problem had the potential to corrupt key trade and order data, so the market had to be suspended. But the market closed at 4pm as usual, after consultation with market participants indicated there was no demand to keep it open longer.

Mr Greene said the ASX has a record of 99.5 per cent uptime and the last time it failed was 16 months ago, when the system was out of action was 52 minutes. He said the system can handle more trades than were lined up at the opening and definitely did not collapse due to the number of investors bailing out of National Australia Bank stocks.