ASX outage traced to software bug on new equity trading platform

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ASX outage traced to software bug on new equity trading platform

New trade system goes down on its first day.

An outage that forced the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) to first pause and then abandon trading on Monday has been traced to a software bug on its refreshed equity trading platform.

In a statement apologising for the market disruption, the exchange blamed the outage, which began shortly after the exchange opened at 10am, on “software issues”.

“The ASX and its technology provider Nasdaq have identified the root cause and a resolution path to fix it,” the exchange said.

“A software issue limited to the trading of multiple securities in a single order (combination trading) created inaccurate market data.”

The ASX said it expected that the software issues would be resolved overnight in time for the commencement of trading at 10 am AEDT on Tuesday.

Monday’s glitch – which is the worst to be experienced by the exchange since a 2016 hardware failure – occurred on day one of operations for a new equity trading platform called the ASX Trade system.

The ASX said it occurred despite “extensive testing” by Nasdaq, customers and specialist third parties over the past year in preparation for the go-live.

“Today was the go-live for the refreshed ASX Trade system, which is the trading platform for the ASX’s equity market,” it said.

“The ASX … , customers and independent specialist third parties conducted extensive testing for over a year, including four dress rehearsals, in preparation for today’s go-live.

“The refresh is the latest generation of a Nasdaq-developed trading system used around the world.”

Managing director and CEO Dominic Stevens said the ASX was “very disappointed” by the full-day outage and apologised for the disruption caused to investors, customers and other market users.

“The outage falls short of the high standards we set ourselves and the standards others expect of us,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the extensive testing and rehearsals, and the involvement of our technology provider, the ASX accepts responsibility.

“The obligation to get this right and provide a reliable and resilient trading system for the market rests with us.

“While I am disappointed with today’s outage, we are determined to continue our program of contemporising the ASX’s technology stack from top to bottom. 

“This initiative is critical to ASX building an exchange for the future and ensuring we best serve the needs of our customers and the Australian market.”

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said the outage was of "significant concern".

"The ASX is one of the world’s most active and visible public markets and forms a critical part of Australia’s national economic infrastructure," ASIC said.

"Well-functioning financial market infrastructure is critical to the integrity and reputation of the Australian equity market and the trust and confidence investors have in it.

"As the primary equities market in Australia, ASX peforms a vital role.

"Market licensees are required to operate a market that, to the extent reasonably practicable, is fair, orderly and transparent, and to have sufficient resources (financial, technological and human) to operate the market, including for any outsourced services."

ASIC said that once the market reopened, it would evaluate "whether the ASX followed the relevant regulatory requirements under the Corporations Act and met its obligations under its Australian Market Licence."

"In addition to ASIC’s expectations that this outage will be resolved as soon as is possible in a safe manner, ASX will be required to provide a full incident report to ASIC," it added.

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