Wall St climbs after extended Nasdaq outage

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - United States (US) stocks closed higher on Thursday in a trading session marred by a historic trading halt of roughly three hours on the Nasdaq stock exchange as a result of technical problems.

All traffic through Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, the second-largest US stock exchange stopped at 12.14pm (12.14am Singapore time), the exchange said on its website. Shares in Nasdaq closed down 3.4 per cent to $30.46.

The exchange resumed trading with a single stock, Atlantic American Corp, at 3.00pm before trading resumed in all of its listed securities at 3.25pm.

The lightly traded stock advanced 0.6 per cent to $3.82.

The outage was the latest in series of high-profile incidents on exchanges.

"We have automated securities markets to the point where you are reliant on computers. This is going to be a recurring thing," said Mr Stephen Massocca, managing director, Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.

"It is difficult to have automated systems that don't have issues on occasion." The outage led to what was easily the lowest full-session volume of the year, with about 4.23 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE MKT and Nasdaq, well below the daily average of 6.3 billion.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.19 points or 0.44 per cent, to 14,963.74, the S&P 500 gained 14.16 points or 0.86 per cent, to 1,656.96 and the Nasdaq Composite added 38.918 points or 1.08 per cent, to 3,638.707.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 31.38 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 3,631.17 when the trading halt began, putting the brakes on trading in stocks of such well-known companies as Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.com.

Microsoft ended the session as the biggest boost to both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes, up 2.5 percent to $32.39.

Apple edged up 0.1 per cent to $502.96 while Amazon closed 1.8 per cent higher at $289.73.

Throughout the Nasdaq outage, other exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange continued to operate.

The Dow industrials rose for the first time in seven sessions after upbeat data from the world's top economies overshadowed nervousness over the winding down of the Federal Reserve's stimulus program.

Gains in the Dow were limited by Hewlett-Packard, which tumbled 12.5 per cent to $22.22 a day after reporting a decline in the Enterprise Group's revenue. The group is the computer company's second-largest division and a critical component of Chief Executive Meg Whitman's plan to transform the company.

The S&P 500 registered its biggest percentage gain since August 1, but was unable to close above its 50-day moving average for a fifth straight session. The mark, now at 1,658.87, has become a technical hurdle.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,551 to 479, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners 1,964 to 519.