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Nasdaq Briefly Halts Some Options Trading -- Update

By Kaitlyn Kiernan Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. briefly halted trading at one of its three options exchanges Friday due to a computer-server problem. Trading in options on stocks with ticker symbols that begin with A through M, including heavily traded Apple Inc. and iShares Russell 2000 exchange-traded fund contracts, was halted on the Nasdaq Options Market for 18 minutes. Trading reopened at 12 p.m. EST, the exchange operator said. Nasdaq issued a series of alerts to traders about the halt and restart. The issue was traced to problems with processing incoming data from a benchmark data feed that supplies options prices to traders, a spokesman for Nasdaq said. No other options exchanges, including Nasdaq's other two options markets, experienced problems during the halt. "The reliability of our market systems is essential to our ability to provide a fair and efficient trading environment for our clients and other market participants," the spokesman said. "We have committed our full resources to identify the root cause of this U.S. options data issue." The issue was the latest in a rash of technology breakdowns to strike critical trading systems, sometimes freezing trade and calling into question the ability of exchanges and regulators to manage the complex web of electronic systems that underlie U.S. financial markets. Technical problems in November forced Nasdaq to halt trading entirely at the Nasdaq Options Market, or NOM, for much of a Friday trading session. In September, the entire U.S. options market ground to a halt because of problems with the Options Price Reporting Authority, or OPRA. The data feed has been the subject of discussions between exchange executives and regulators as a centralize, single point of failure for multiple options markets. OPRA, which is the electronic pipeline delivering information on options trades and quotes to brokers and investors, was operating normally during the outage, said Jim Roche, vice president of OPRA. The Nasdaq Options Market was the sixth-largest of 12 U.S. options exchanges by trading volume in 2013, according to data from options clearinghouse OCC, with 7.9% of options trading volume last year. Nasdaq OMX's Philadelphia-based trading venue PHLX was the second-largest exchange, with nearly 17% of volume. The Chicago Board Options Exchange tops the list with 26% of trading volume. Nasdaq also own the BX Options exchange, with less than 1% of overall volume. Write to Kaitlyn Kiernan at kaitlyn.kiernan@wsj.com Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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