TSE suspends trading operations

Tokyo, November 1:

Trading at Asia’s largest stock exchange came to a standstill on Tuesday after the biggest computer glitch in its 56-year history shut down transactions in all listed shares and most bonds.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) suspended trading Tuesday morning for over 2,000 issues and 118 corporate bonds after its transactions system failed to switch on. Government bonds were not affected.

The exchange was finally able to resume activity at 1:30 p.m. (0430GMT) for the final 90 minutes of the afternoon session. The shutdown did not dampen investor sentiment, with Japanese stocks soaring to their highest level in nearly 4 1/2 years. Tle Nikkei 225 index jumped 261.36 points, or 1.92 percent, to 13,867.86 - its highest close since May 24, 2001.

A new piece of software that tracks data from investment banks, developed by Japanese electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd., seemed to be behind the shutdown, Tomio Amano, the managing director of the exchange, told reporters.

“We are extremely sorry,” Amano said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the TSE would take legal action against Fujitsu. Toshiaki Koike, a Fujitsu spokesman, said the firm could not comment until the exchange came up with more conclusive findings.

The bourse has been overhauling its information technology infrastructure to deal with recent surges in trading volume. In October, it launched an emergency upgrade of its transactions system after trading volume increased by almost 70 percent between July and September.

Tuesday’s shutdown was the first time the exchange suspended trading in all shares since it was established in 1949, Amano said. In 1997, a system glitch caused a halt in computerized trading, but floor trading was unaffected.

The TSE now only conducts computerized trading. The exchange also closed trading after the Emperor Hirohito’s death on January 7, 1989, officials said. Tokyo’s shutdown boosted trading activity on the Osaka Stock Exchange as investors rushed to trade there, causing temporary delays in its share price information system, according to spokesman Toshihiro Mori.

About 690 companies trade on both the Tokyo and Osaka bourses.