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Server Crash Spurs 3-Hour Nasdaq Halt as Data Link Lost

The interruption that froze half the U.S. stock market last week began with a routine notice.
“NYSE Arca is currently experiencing an issue processing customer messages on routed orders in Tape C symbol range ‘TACT’ through ‘ZYY.C,’” read an alert for traders received by Bloomberg News at 10:17 a.m. on Aug. 22. “Will advise.”

The brevity of the message belied its significance. Computers at the world’s biggest exchange operators were having difficulty communicating. Within two hours, trading stopped in more than 2,000 U.S. stocks. The three-hour shutdown was the latest in a series of failures to disrupt increasingly complicated markets, prompting the Securities and Exchange Commission to push for rules requiring executives to improve the reliability of their technology.

“Every time we have a glitch like this, it just knocks a little bit more investor confidence off the table,” said Seth Merrin, chief executive officer of Liquidnet Holdings Inc., a private trading platform that competes with the public exchanges, in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “This kind of scenario should have been thought of and practiced between all of the different participants.”

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