ASX Shuts Stock Market for Rest of Monday on Technical Issue

  • Trading opened 90 minutes late because of the malfunction
  • Australia’s $1.1 trillion market is Asia’s sixth biggest

Australia’s stock exchange suspended trading for the rest of the day after earlier saying the problem that caused a 90-minute delay to Monday’s open had been resolved, drawing criticism from investors and brokerages.

ASX Ltd. said in a statement Monday there will be no closing price auction that normally takes place at the end of the trading day. The bourse operator said it will advise the process for determining closing prices, remaining session states and status of orders.

The issue comes at an inconvenient time for investors and traders assessing their positions, with policy meetings scheduled at the Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve this week, and Australia’s central bank set to release minutes from its most recent meeting on Tuesday. Australia’s equity market is worth $1.1 trillion, making it the sixth-largest in the Asia-Pacific region.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this before,” Niv Dagan, the Melbourne-based executive director at Peak Asset Management LLC, said by phone. “It’s frustrating because they said they’d fixed it. We’d hope the ASX sorts things out by tomorrow to allow traders to exit positions before the Fed meeting. You’ve got traders and fund managers looking to change their portfolios before that, and unfortunately, they can’t do that.”

Late Open

ASX delayed the normal 10 a.m. local time equity market opening until 11:30 a.m. due to an issue relating to a component that allows it to manage individual stocks, Matthew Gibbs, a spokesman for ASX in Sydney said earlier, adding that the company was working with its technology vendor Nasdaq Inc. to prevent a recurrence. It then halted trading in the afternoon before canceling it for the rest of the day.

Chi-X Australia Pty, which operates a competing stock-trading system, had to delay its usual open due to the ASX glitch, said Chief Executive Officer John Fildes.

The ASX’s shares fell as much as 2.4 percent in Sydney trading before trading was halted, while the nation’s benchmark equity gauge, the S&P/ASX 200 Index, was little changed. ASX shares were up 14 percent this year prior to Monday, compared with a 19 percent increase in a Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of security and commodity exchanges.

“We were expecting it to be fairly quiet in the market today and tomorrow,” James Woods, an analyst at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, said by phone. “There would’ve been some position adjusting last week and today and tomorrow” ahead of the Fed and BOJ meetings, he said. “It’s a bit of a black mark for the reputation.”

CEO Appointment

ASX last month named Dominic Stevens as its new chief executive officer after a four-month search to replace Elmer Funke Kupper. The former head stepped down in March as police investigated activities in Cambodia of Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., the Australian betting company that Funke Kupper formerly led.

The firm, which is in the process of revamping its futures and cash equity trading platforms, has pushed resources into its derivatives business in recent years that is now the firm’s biggest component. Cash markets, which accounted for more than 30 percent of ASX’s revenue five years ago, are now less than one-fifth.

Trading Glitches

Technical issues have plagued exchanges from Asia to Europe.

A problem on ASX’s derivatives platform halted trading in September last year, preventing traders from buying and selling everything from interest-rate derivatives to contracts on energy and grains. In October 2014, equity and bond futures trading on the country’s main exchange was halted for about two hours after a technical fault prevented the updating of prices for some users. That same month, pricing on the S&P/ASX 200 Index was unavailable for about 30 minutes after a problem with one of the firm’s feeds. In 2014, Chi-X halted its stock trading platform for the remainder of a session to fix a technical issue.

In Singapore, a technical malfunction halted share trading in July, prompting the head of the Singapore Stock Exchange Ltd. to apologize and attracting a rebuke from the city-state’s central bank. Southeast Asia’s biggest bourse failed in two attempts to reopen the market after a problem caused by duplicated trade confirmation messages, drawing the ire of traders.

Malfunctions at Deutsche Boerse AG, Europe’s biggest derivatives exchange, disrupted trading in February and July 2015, while there was a one-hour halt in trading on Euronext NV’s derivatives products in March last year. The New York Stock Exchange had an outage last year that lasted 3 1/2 hours.

“It’s very, very inconvenient,” said Ben Le Brun, a trader at OptionsXpress Australia Pty, which handles futures and options trades. “This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a problem with the ASX.”

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