Thanks to supercomputers, the stock market moves at lightning speed with hundreds or thousands of trades happening for each company every second. It's so finely tuned that traders worried that the leap second last week was going to crash some markets, and made changes in trading activity to prevent it.
So it's a big deal when an entire stock exchange grinds to a halt for hours. And that's exactly what happened to the New York Stock Exchange this morning at 11:32 a.m. Eastern.
So far, it's being described as a "technical issue," and one anonymous U.S. official, speaking to the Washington Post, was quick to say it isn't a cyberattack. As I'm writing this, every other stock exchange is still up and running smoothly, so it could be an isolated incident.
However, there were some other major computer "glitches" this morning as well. A serious problem with United's computer network grounded 4,900 flights and, while it's been fixed, it's still causing huge travel delays across the country. The Washington Post's website was also partially down at the same time as the NYSE, although it's now back up.
It could be a coincidence, but that's a lot of major infrastructure having hiccups close together. According to the Washington Post, this is the first time the NYSE has stopped trading since June 1, 2005, and on that occasion, it was only down for four minutes.
We'll keep an eye on this and let you know if there turns out to be more to it.