NYSE reviewing upgrade as possible cause of options outage

NYSE Euronext is looking into whether a software upgrade at a subsidiary disrupted a price feed that briefly halted U.S. options exchanges today.

Securities Industry Automation Corp., the NYSE unit that oversees the quote dissemination service linking U.S. options markets, is focusing on a programming update that may have led to today’s halt, said Rich Adamonis, an NYSE Euronext spokesman.

The interruption came three weeks after Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.’s system for distributing U.S. stock prices failed, prompting a three-hour halt for thousands of companies. In the aftermath, securities regulators told exchanges last week to collaborate on preventing more shutdowns.

“The miscues that have occurred today are eerily similar to those with Nasdaq,” said Yousef Abbasi, market strategist at JonesTrading Institutional Services LLC, a Westlake, California- based broker. “You have issues with a price reporting or quote disseminating system.”

All 12 U.S. options exchanges temporarily shut today, with firms including CBOE Holdings Inc. and Nasdaq OMX blaming an issue with the Options Price Reporting Authority data feed that SIAC administers.

Stocks Slip

While trading continued without disruption on American equity markets, stock prices slipped around the time of the mishap. About 614 million shares had traded on all exchanges between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. New York time, compared with 499 million in the preceding hour, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell from 1,702 to below 1,698 between 1:30 and 1:43 p.m.

In a meeting with the heads of U.S. securities markets last week, Mary Jo White, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, urged the executives to shore up price feeds that serve investors and traders.

Participants included representatives from the U.S. stock and options exchanges, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. and Options Clearing Corp. They were told to “provide comprehensive action plans that address the standards necessary to establish highly resilient and robust systems for the securities information processors,” the SEC said in a statement. That includes “testing standards and disclosure protocols,” it said.

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