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New York Stock Exchange suspends trading

The New York Stock Exchange shut down its main market because of a computer malfunction, forcing traders to steer orders elsewhere in the biggest disruption to an American equity venue in almost two years.

The suspension, announced to securities firms through notices on the NYSE website around 11:32 a.m., dropped the largest U.S. share platform out of the network of trading platforms that make up the American equity market. That network kept running, however, as other exchanges such as the Nasdaq Stock Market and Bats Global Markets Inc. picked up the runoff.

“We’re currently experiencing a technical issue that we’re working to resolve as quickly as possible,” Marissa Arnold, an NYSE spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will be providing further updates as soon as we can, and are doing our utmost to produce a swift resolution, communicate thoroughly and transparently, and ensure a timely and orderly market re-open.”

While rare, computer breakdowns in electronic markets have become an unavoidable fact of life for American investors operating in markets that have sped up and fragmented over the past decade and a half amid computer advances and regulation. NYSE’s breakdown came two years after the Nasdaq Stock Market was forced to halt trading in its shares for three hours because of a broken price feed.

“I don’t think it’s a hacking incident here or anything like that,” Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Chatham, New Jersey-based Themis Trading LLC, said by phone. “Based on what I’ve seen in the past, these type of things are usually some sort of issues related to an upgrade, maybe to handle the excessive traffic that’s constantly coming in with high-speed trading.”

The stock exchange operator said in a Twitter message the issue is internal and not a “cyber breach.” The Securities and Exchange Commission is closely monitoring the situation, according to an e-mailed statement from Chair Mary Jo White.

While the NYSE’s rupture sowed anxiety and stirred memories of past breakdowns such as the May 2010 flash crash, it also highlighted the resilience of a system where no one exchange handles more than 16 percent of transactions. Both Nasdaq and Bats said their venues were operating as normal during the outage.