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Canada's biggest stock exchange back after day-long shutdown

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The Toronto Stock Exchange is open for business once again after a technical glitch on Wednesday wiped out an entire day of trading for the world's seventh biggest exchange.

Canada's largest exchange was halted just 18 minutes after opening Wednesday when IT workers realized only some customers were receiving real-time quote and trade information. Although the system could still process orders, the plug was pulled at 9:48 AM Eastern on both the main exchange and venture exchange for smaller listings.

It was the longest trading outage since TSX went entirely electronic in April 2007. About 28,000 trades were completed before the system was halted.

The exchange's owners, TMX Group, updated investors in brief statements throughout the day – at first only by assuring customers there were no technical issues with the company's new Quantum trading engine. Only by late afternoon it disclosed that a "network firmware issue" was the source of the problem.

"This resulted in complications with data synchronization between the primary and redundant data feed generators, which impacted the delivery of the Level 1 data feeds," the company said in a statement. "Because not all investors could access information about trading on the market, the decision was made to halt trading."

Level 1 trading feeds deliver real-time data about trades to brokers and news organizations.

"I would like to apologize to our customers for the disruption that the halt in trading cause yesterday," said Tom Kloet, TMX Group CEO in a statement. "I would also like to assure investors that all efforts are being made to ensure that such a disruption in trading does not happen again."

TMX Group has since been tight-lipped about the exact nature of the problem or, for that matter, why there wasn't a a working backup system to keep trading open. A TMX Group spokeswoman said they won't say anything about the outage beyond what was described in its non-descriptive press release

The stock exchange was back in order Thursday morning, however. The main stock index took a hit in early trading, with TMX Group shares falling 1.6 per cent – perhaps as a form of shareholder retribution. TSX turned positive later in the day likely resulting from news of president Bush's announced plans to bail out the US auto industry. ®

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