US futures markets hit by four-hour trading halt
A technical error at CME Group prompted a four-hour trading halt at the world's largest futures market, preventing buying and selling of contracts tied to major stock indexes, as well as to Treasuries, oil and gold.
CME Group was forced to suspend trading over the weekend on its Globex electronic market, according to statements on its website. Only Malaysian equity- index derivatives were available.
It was one of the longest exchange disruptions of 2014 and took place almost exactly a year after an August 2013 malfunction at Nasdaq OMX Group that caused a three-hour halt for some of the biggest US stocks.
The Nasdaq outage prompted US securities regulators to demand exchanges improve their reliability. CME experienced a more than 90-minute trading halt on April 8 with some agricultural futures.
The latest shutdown was "not as disruptive as if it had been a problem during the US and European trading hours," Craig Pirrong, a professor at the University of Houston, said.
"I'm sure that this will engender a look by CME of 'How can we mitigate these problems going forward,' but I'd have to think it won't ever be possible to eliminate them," he said.
CME Group owns exclusive rights to Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures, meaning contracts tied to one of the most-watched stock measures couldn't trade. It also owns the Chicago and New York Mercantile Exchanges.
"CME Globex markets were halted due to a technical issue resulting from planned software reconfigurations made over the weekend," a spokeswoman said. (Bloomberg)