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At 12.15pm (London time) yesterday the NASDAQ began to have problems with its primary trading platform, and within 20 minutes it had to suspend all trading of the 3000-plus equities quoted for the following three hours. This resulted in 40% less volume of trading during the day.
Although the company is currently blaming technical issues, the market is rife with wild speculative conspiracy theories; the most popular of which is that algorithm trades are set for when Apple shares hit $500. Historically squirrels have been the biggest culprit responsible for shutdowns, affecting trading in 1987, 1994 and 2004, but you would hope that defences for such problems would be more effective by now.
The last time that the NASDAQ suffered such public criticism was in May 2012, during the launch of Facebook shares after its initial public offering (IPO). The exchange was investigated by the SEC and ultimately fined $10 million for its failures.
Broadly speaking, when looking around the equities quoted on the exchange, they all opened and behaved relatively well after the three-hour sabbatical. The shares that suffered the most were NASDAQ’s themselves, which saw a 3.5% drop on the day.