The London Stock Exchange (LSE) suffered its longest outage in eight years on Friday, delaying the trading of shares in some of Britain’s largest companies.
A software glitch meant that trading in FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 stocks started at 9:40am rather than at the usual time of 8am, the LSE said. The affected companies included AstraZeneca, BHP Group, BP, HSBC, Shell and Unilever.
Trading in the shares of smaller companies opened as normal at 8.
The incident added to the drama that has roiled global financial markets this week. Worries about the US-China trade war and a possible US recession have made for volatile trading.
“Investors would have been yearning for a quiet Friday after a week of turmoil for the markets driven by recession fears,” said Russ Mould at investment platform AJ Bell.
“It looked like just such a peaceful interlude was on the cards until the technical issues.”
The outage is the longest since February 2011, when trading did not start until lunchtime one day. It is also the second at the exchange in just over a year. In June last year, the market opened an hour later than usual because of a technical fault.
The LSE is not the only global market exchange afflicted by technical problems in recent months. A technical error at the CME in the US in February halted trading in some major securities for about three hours. Glitches this week affected the trading in the shares of Apple, Google’s parent Alphabet and other big companies.
The LSE is one of the world’s largest exchanges. Daily trading in stocks amounts to about £5bn ($6.1bn) – equivalent to the GDP of Fiji.
Additional reporting by agencies