The Cable

New York Stock Exchange Shut Down Adds to Rough Day for Global Markets

The New York Stock Exchange shut down mysteriously Wednesday morning.

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Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock marketplace in the world, abruptly halted at 11:32 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, dealing a new blow to world markets already reeling from financial and political crises in major economic powerhouses across the globe.

The mysterious stoppage came just hours after United Airlines grounded its entire fleet because of an unspecified technical glitch, disrupting more than 3,500 flights. The two incidents raised immediate fears of a widespread cyberattack, though U.S. officials and the stock exchange insisted that neither incident had been caused by hackers. The FBI said it would monitor the situation but that there was no need for law enforcement to get involved at this point.

The NYSE chaos — at one point all pending orders to buy or sell stocks on the exchange were canceled — capped what was already a rough day for global markets. Equities listed on the exchange can still be bought and sold on smaller markets, like the one in Chicago.

The ongoing standoff over Greece that has raised the real prospect of Athens being booted out of the eurozone is also unsettling investors. Stock markets in Germany and the United Kingdom traded up slightly, optimistic that the Grexit could be avoided. But the value of the euro continues to sag. One euro is worth $1.10, a 12-year low for the currency.

The Chinese economy is also in trouble, suffering from the burst of an investment bubble created by Chinese citizens borrowing money to buy stocks they couldn’t afford. On Wednesday, Chinese stocks, which are down 30 percent for the year, continued their nosedive. At the closing bell, the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 5.9 percent, while the Shenzhen Component Index dipped 3 percent.

Cybersecurity firms got an immediate bump as rumors of a hack spread. While the NYSE was closed, security companies surged on the NASDAQ.

The stock exchange canceled all open orders and blamed the shutdown on unspecified technical issues. This could pose a danger to investors hedging their positions amid financial chaos in China and Greece in the American market. The nature of the technical issue behind the stoppage is not known.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 175.31, or just less than one percent, when trading stopped. The NASDAQ remains open for business.

At 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time Wednesday, the exchange resumed trading. There’s still no explanation for what caused the shutdown.

In 2012, technical issues stopped NYSE trading for some stocks. Trading also was suspended for two days after the 2001 terror attacks. Regulators can also halt trading to stop massive financial losses, a move known as a trading curb or circuit breaker.

Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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