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Good Question: Who Decides To Halt Trading?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted for three-and-a-half hours on Wednesday due to a technical glitch. That's the longest period since the four-day shutdown after 9/11.

So, who decides who shuts down the NYSE? Good Question.

"It's like any company," said Bethel University business professor Charles Hannema. "There is senior level management that looks at the operations of a company and says, 'Is there something in peril?'"

The New York Stock Exchange is a publicly traded company that gives buyers and sellers a place to trade their stocks. It's one of several exchanges in the U.S., but the largest by far, so people could use other places to trade.

"Part of taking our role so seriously is that we need to have markets that are 100 percent at all times," said NYSE President Tom Farley in an interview with CNBC Wednesday afternoon. "I wanted our focus to be finding what was wrong, fixing it, having the right plan in place, mobilizing our rapid response team, getting up and running and being there for the close."

Halting trading on the NYSE doesn't happen very often, but there are a variety of ways that it does. It has closed for a blizzard (1888), Hurricanes Gloria and Sandy, several funerals of presidents and a week before World War I. It closed for the three days following September 11, 2001.

It can also close for minutes at a time if the stock market plunges. That happened on October 27, 1997, when the Dow ultimately dropped 554 points. These stoppages are called circuit breakers.

"It's trying to create a floor in the market, give investors a chance to breathe as opposed to panic," said Hannema. "There's a huge psychological component."

Computer problems have also caused shutdowns in the past. According to the NYSE, a computer switch malfunction halted trading for 59 minutes on October 26, 1998. A computer systems connectivity problem also halted trading for one hour and 25 minutes on June 8, 2001.

In August 2013, The NASDAQ also shut down for about three hours after a computer systems upgrade.

"As we upgrade systems to make them more reliable and more resilient to cyberattack, the very act of upgrading them will in some cases introduce changes that cause failures or even new vulnerabilities," Steve Grubman of Intel Security told CBS News.


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