Singapore traders were aware of software problem on Tuesday morning

Traders and remisiers said they became aware of the software glitch as early as Tuesday morning after they were told by their backroom staff that they were unable to see settlement details for stock trades executed on Monday. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SI
Traders and remisiers said they became aware of the software glitch as early as Tuesday morning after they were told by their backroom staff that they were unable to see settlement details for stock trades executed on Monday. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Traders and remisiers said they became aware of the software glitch that delayed trading on Wednesday as early as Tuesday morning after they were told by their backroom staff that they were unable to see trade settlement details for stock trades executed on Monday (Dec 1).

The Singapore Exchange announced at about 4am on Wednesday that it will delay the stock market opening on Wednesday to 12:30pm because of a software glitch that had since been rectified. It said later that the problem was caused by "programming changes performed over the weekend."

SGX declined to comment when asked by the Straits Times why it had not disclosed the problem earlier.

A remisier told the ST: "We were told by our backroom staff around 9 am (on Dec 2) there was a glitch in the SGX system and they weren't able to see trade settlement details (on Dec 2) for stock trades executed Dec 1."

"People could trade as per normal on Tuesday," he said. "The disruption was in the normal procedure of reconciling trade settlements, in the flow of information or full details of trade settlements on Dec 1. So the glitch affected accounting procedures, because contract details weren't immediately available," he said.

"Those clients who did contra trading, or trading of shares without cash upfront payment, on Dec 1 were only able to get estimates of their contract settlement at best," he said. Brokers had to calculate client's settlement details on a manual basis as opposed to relying on SGX system for settlement details.

The contract statement typically states the total number and type of shares bought, clearing fees and broking charges. Without those details, the brokers aren't able to calculate the final or net amount of the trade executed.

"It is an unnecessary inconvenience to the clients because they haven't received contract statement through snail mail, and so they have to rely on trading rep to give them estimates," another remisier said.

Another trader noted: "This is not how a world-class stock exchange should function. Someone should take responsibility for the disruption to the market trading routine because this doesn't inspire confidence in market participants."

Wednesday's 3-1/2 hour market delay comes less than a month after SGX halted trading for more than three hours on Nov 5 because of a massive power-supply failure.

"First they blamed the lightning (for the Nov 5 trading halt). Now, who are they going to blame?" another remisier said.

He added: "If this is the result of full day trading, then SGX should bring back the lunch break, so that it can take advantage of that to perform system maintenance."