Wed, May 10, 2006 - Page 12 News List

TAIFEX crash interrupts trading

SYSTEM PROBLEMS The futures index lost 95 minutes of trading time yesterday morning, although officials said that the crash had no effect on trading volumes

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Futures Exchange's (TAIFEX) options trading systems crashed yesterday morning, delaying trading for 95 minutes, the longest shutdown in its history.

One of its main servers malfunctioned at 7:47am when the company was conducting testing before the start of TAIFEX trading at 8:45am. Although engineers immediately launched the emergency mechanism by starting the programs required using another server, the problems remained, according to a TAIFEX press release issued yesterday.

The company then decided at 8:45am that the opening of trading would be postponed. At the same time, it started posting relevant information on its Web site and futures brokers' instant messaging systems to inform investors about the error in the hope of minimizing the impact on the market.

The bugs were sorted out by 9:50am. Trading for options, TAIFEX's flagship product, started at 10:20am, the press release said.

Normal trading hours on the TAIFEX are from 8:45am to 1:45pm.

Although the unexpected shutdown was the longest ever, TAIFEX said trading volumes were not affected.

TAIFEX saw more than 490,000 option contracts traded yesterday, compared with the average daily volume of more than 500,000 contracts, said a company employee who refused to be named.

She said the company allowed investors to decide whether to cancel or keep their transaction orders during the 15 minutes before trading started at 10:20am yesterday, which helped reduce incurred losses.

"If the computer system broke down after trading had started, the situation would have been much more serious and complex," she said.

Arthur Yeh (葉紹威), TAIFEX executive vice president, said the shutdown was caused by flawed computer systems, rather than an engineers' oversight, and therefore the company has no plans to compensate their investors -- where 50 percent are corporate investors and the rest individuals.

"This is a situation that we could not avoid. We hope investors will understand," he said.

But this is not the first time TAIFEX has reported a computer crash.

Over the past four years, TAIFEX's trading systems have broken down at least four times, triggering investor complaints that their investing strategies were messed up, according to a USTV report.

Futures brokers said TAIFEX's computers do break down more often than those of other nations.

Jason Lee (李鳳翱), chairman of the non-profit Consumers' Foundation (消基會), suggested that the company identify the reasons for trading flaws to safeguard investors' rights.

"Unless computer crashes are caused by natural disasters, the company cannot shirk responsibility and must overhaul its maintenance and control mechanisms," Lee said.

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