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Mystery fault paralyses NASDAQ stock exchange

The NASDAQ stock exchange’s operators have said they will look into a glitch that halted Wall Street trading. The failure was something of an embarrassment for the index, which hosts some of technology’s biggest names.

A mysterious technological problem stopped business on Wall Street's NASDAQ exchange on Friday, the longest shutdown in recent memory.

NASDAQ trading resumed at 3.25 p.m. in the afternoon, after a three-hour eleven-minute halt in shares trading. Among the companies that had their share trading affected were such notables as Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Index operators OMX said the problem lay in its system for disseminating prices and that it planned to uncover the problem.

"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.

The shutdown proved so serious that it prompted US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White to call for a meeting of stock marker leaders to ensure "continuous and orderly" functioning of securities markets. Both the White House and the US Treasury were said to have been monitoring the situation.

During the cessation in trading, shares could still be bought and sold on other exchanges.

The fault was the latest in a succession of technical problems on electronic markets that have shaken consumer confidence in recent years. Among the most alarming was the so-called “flash crash” of May 2010, which set off a stock-market plunge.

rc / ch (AP, dpa, Reuters)