Computer glitch crashed Aussie share market

Australian investors are looking down the back of the sofa for a missing billion dollars after a computer glitch caused the Australian Securities Exchange to shut down.

The computer error meant that the sharemarket was forced to close abruptly at 2.48 PM, meaning that 149,513 fewer trades than the 2010 daily average were managed. In short the swanky new computer system’s antics cost the exchange $1.5 billion dollars.

The market operator had hoped to fix the glitch and extend trading into the wee small hours to make up for it, but by 5pm realised that turning it off and turning it on again was not going to work.

Anne Bland, an ASX spokeswoman, told the Sydney Morning Herald that all trades were executed but “confirmation messages” for trades failed to reach a segment of the market, meaning the market had to be halted.

At time of going to press she didn’t know if it was a hardware or software problem.

Southern Cross Equities’ executive director Angus Aitken said the problem had left brokers in the dark with many of them sitting there wondering what’s going on. So no change there then.

The Nasdaq OMX system was supposed to be peace in our time for the ASE. It was launched in November with the claim that it would bring “performance benefits” to the Australian market. So if the market sitting on its hands all day is a definition of performance benefits, it looks like the OMX system is quids in.

Last night, the ASX said it was not sure if the problem would be fixed by today.