London Stock Exchange tackles closing auction system problem

Automatic message issue thought to have been resolved

The London Stock Exchange has taken steps to resolve a system problem that occurred at 4.30pm yesterday (Tuesday), which saw a delay to the start of the closing auction and knocked out automatic trades during a 42 second period.

The problem occurred a day after the high profile launch of its new matching engine on the main equities market, based on the SUSE Linux system from Novell.

Sources close to the exchange today told Computerworld UK that the problem yesterday involved a system linked to the matching engine. Due to a technical problem, that system sent out the daily automatic message to clients - stating that the closing auction was beginning - 42 seconds late.

LSE traders are required to wait for the message before trading. Normally auction trade instructions sent before the message would not complete, however because of the surprise delay, on this occasion order book trades were allowed to complete later.

The LSE is understood to have taken new steps to ensure the message goes out on time from today. In a statement to clients, the exchange said it could confirm that "all order book trades" executed on Tuesday "will remain valid". It added: "Clients should contact their account manager should they have any further queries."

Monday's launch of the new matching engine, written in C++ language and running on Novell SUSE Linux-based datacentres, was largely seen as a success, without any high profile problems. The system replaced a Microsoft .Net-based system that was written in C# by Accenture, and ran on Windows Server and SQL Server.

Over the last two days some traders have noted specific pricing problems with inaccurate data appearing, however it is thought that this was the result of incorrectly setup gateways or software from data vendors connected to the exchange, rather than the fault of LSE systems.

One data vendor possibly experiencing data inaccuracy problems was reported by market participants as Netbuilder. However, this has not been confirmed, and Netbuilder has not responded to requests for comment.

Sources told Computerworld UK they were surprised there may have been data problems with some vendors, given the year-long testing time allocated for the new system and network connections.

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