Frustrations mount over London Stock Exchange data interface

It remains unclear exactly where the problems lie

London Stock Exchange traders are becoming increasingly frustrated at continued data feed problems affecting several large data providers linked to the exchange.

Thomson Reuters and Interactive Data, two of the largest companies providing real time market prices using software interfacing with the LSE, have been displaying incorrect or blank pricing data, according to Computerworld UK readers.

Even the LSE's own data service, Proquote, initially experienced problems. Elsewhere Netbuilder, a software vendor linking to the exchange, also experienced problems and demonstrated incorrect prices.

The news comes three days after the LSE launched a new Novell SUSE Linux-based matching engine on the main cash exchange, seen as one of the most important events in its technology history since electronic messaging took over from floor traders in 1986.

Publicly, the LSE and the data vendors say they are working together as engineers scramble to fix the price data problems, even though some statements to clients suggest elements of blame.

But behind the scenes, sources close to the several of the parties, including the exchange, told Computerworld UK they were immensely frustrated at the reputational impact of the problems.

The LSE is taking the position that its data feeds are working correctly. Industry sources said the exchange had placed a great deal of emphasis on the launch, which was largely providing successful high-speed trading, and that it had allocated sufficient time - 15 months - for the vendors to be fully prepared for the new system.

Sources close to data providers, conversely, said the problem was a mixture of both their infrastructure, and the LSE's network feeds and technical instructions.

As brokers said they were finding it difficult to trade with inaccurate prices, and as vendors sent out messages to clients concerning the system, the LSE issued a statement to the markets.

The LSE statement appeared to place some blame with the vendors. "Unfortunately a couple of market data vendors have experienced some specific issues aligning to the new Millennium Exchange platform and we are actively working with them to help resolve their issues," it said.

"All other trading customers and vendors are successfully trading on the new platform, benefiting from Millennium Exchange's superior functionality and speed." Since the launch, the LSE had been successfully trading over 75 million client orders with an average latency of 125 microseconds, it said.

Thomson Reuters, one of the largest market providers, said it was "working closely" with the LSE to resolve issues "following the rollout of their Millennium network".

"Our priority is to resolve this issue as quickly as possible for our clients," it said.

However, Thomson Reuters' message to clients blamed "an issue at the exchange". The message is understood to have played a part in prompting the LSE to issue its own statement.

Interactive Data has not yet commented.

Netbuilder insisted it had carried out "all possible testing during the available testing time but there were some unforeseen issues encountered".

It said the price disappearance on its feeds on Tuesday morning was "no-one's fault". However, it added that it was owing to "a misinterpretation of the detailed technical specifications which resulted in a misunderstanding". This misunderstanding "wasn't fully uncovered in our test plans".

Netbuilder said it moved rapidly to make amendments to "some data processing logic" in order to correct the problem. It is understood several vendors experiencing problems have contacted the firm to ask how it solved the issue.

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 in pure trading and matching stability terms, without any outages, in spite of the price data problems with some vendors and in spite of a closing auction delay.

The system replaced Microsoft .Net-based trading software that was written in C# by Accenture, and ran on Windows Server and SQL Server.

Compared to the eight hour outage experienced during heavy trading in 2007 on the .Net system, TradElect, the price data problems are having a narrower impact, with most data firms correctly displaying prices. Nevertheless, with some of the largest data vendors still unable to provide correct pricing on certain stocks several days on, engineers continue to work into the night to tackle the problem.

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