SGX outage: Anxious clients call remisiers

FRUSTRATION and unanswered questions last night swirled around the longest trading outage at the Singapore Exchange.

Trading was halted just before noon yesterday and the bourse stayed shut for the rest of the day - despite two failed bids to reopen.

At press time, it was unclear if SGX would reopen this morning.

Yesterday's downtime of at least 5hr 20 min was the first major disruption since two outages that enraged investors and the authorities in late 2014.

It raised fresh worries over the resilience of SGX trading systems.

Trading of the securities market was halted at 11.38am, the bourse said in a statement. Derivatives trading was not affected.

The halt was to reconcile "duplicate trade confirmation messages" and trading would resume at 2pm, the SGX said later, adding "no duplicate trades were executed and the market remained orderly".

But the SGX twice pushed back the resumption time, before saying at 4.01pm that the market would not reopen yesterday. No information was given on what caused the glitch or why the systems could not be recovered.

The downtime was far longer than the Dec 3, 2014 disruption, when market open was delayed to 12.30pm due to a software glitch.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which took a stern view of earlier outages, said it is monitoring the situation closely.

Frustration and disappointment gripped the trading floor, as remisiers took calls from anxious clients.

"I have at least eight clients contacting me since 11.30 am... I won't be surprised if many people lost money," remisier Soh Wee Boon said.

Before the disruption, the Straits Times Index had pared 0.13 per cent to 2,907 points.

The Society of Remisiers president Jimmy Ho said: "This is unacceptable. After all the money they spent on tech, I don't know why there isn't any contingency plan, or at least the ability to recover the systems quickly."

The SGX said in June last year it would invest $20 million to boost tech infrastructure.

MAS reprimanded SGX for the two 2014 incidents and put a moratorium on bourse fee hikes.

Then finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said they hurt Singapore's financial centre reputation.

Securities Investors Association Singapore chief executive David Gerald was less critical.

"As I understand, duplicate trades are not problems unique to SGX... The trading halt is necessary in the interest of investors and to allow brokers to reconcile the positions," he said.

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