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London Exchange is delayed by technical problem

The London Stock Exchange did not move for about an hour and 40 minutes.

[LONDON] Traders who have been frantically following market swerves, tied to the ongoing trade war and a broad economic slowdown, had an unexpected respite Friday.

The London Stock Exchange did not move. For about an hour and 40 minutes.

One of the world's oldest exchanges was unable to handle trades at its scheduled open time and administrators scrabbled to reassure investors. Trading should have started at 8 am, but it was not fully operational until 9:40 am because of a "technical software issue," the exchange said in a statement.

The company said it could not provide a comprehensive list of securities that were affected, but added that trading was delayed on two important indexes, the FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250, as well as some other securities. Shares in the London Stock Exchange Group were up 1.5 per cent by late morning.

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On its system notice board, the exchange offered advice that will be familiar  or perhaps maddening  to anyone who has suffered from IT issues before: Log out and log back in again.

Problems like this are not unknown. Several exchanges, including London's, had outages blamed on technical glitches last year.

Still, the timing was unfortunate. The London Stock Exchange group's parent company is in the process of broadening its remit from stock exchanges to financial data. Two weeks ago, the London Stock Exchange Group agreed to buy Refinitiv, a provider of financial data, for about US$27 billion, including debt. The acquisition is aimed at putting the group in competition with data giants like Bloomberg.

The trading problem Friday also occurred during a turbulent week for global markets, which have whipsawed in reaction to the trade war between the United States and China. Stocks were up and down Thursday as China sent conflicting signs about how it would respond to threats of tariffs from President Donald Trump.

The prospect of weaker global growth has also weighed on stocks, prompting investors to flee toward safer government debt, pushing down yields on Treasuries.

Across Europe on Friday, markets looked relatively calm after the volatility of the day before. The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.7 per cent by late morning. The Dax in Germany was up 0.8 per cent midmorning, and the CAC 40 in France was up about 0.9 per cent.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 closed slightly higher, up 0.06 per cent, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.9 per cent.