The Tokyo Stock Exchange suspended all equity trading on Thursday, blaming a system error for a shutdown that falls on a critical day of economic data releases and portfolio rebalancing.

The exchange announced the halt shortly before the market was due to open at 9am and it was still in place by the end of the morning session two and a half hours later. The suspension affects more than 2,500 stocks listed on exchanges run by Japan Exchange Group, Asia’s largest operator in terms of listed companies’ market capitalisation. 

The outage — likely the TSE’s worst in over a decade — also hit exchanges in Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo, which use the same underlying cash equity trading system built by technology group Fujitsu. It was unclear, however, whether the problem arose from a separate data management system that was not designed by Fujitsu.

A spokesperson for Fujitsu told reporters the company was investigating. A JPX spokesman said it had ruled-out hacking or a cyber attack.

Derivatives trading continued as normal on the Osaka Exchange, which is owned by JPX but relies on different systems.

JPX said it did not know when trading would resume, leading brokers and market strategists to predict intense volatility when it does. JPX also halted activity on ToSTNeT, its platform for off-auction transactions.

The TSE suffered a series of embarrassing glitches in the mid-2000s but had been relatively stable since 2010, when it introduced Fujitsu’s “Arrowhead” trading system. The last time it was forced to suspend all share trading was in 2005.

The outage also comes on a day when equity volumes would traditionally be high, said brokers. October 1 is the first day of both the new financial quarter and the second half of Japan’s financial year. That means funds are often active as they adjust portfolio weightings. 

The Bank of Japan also released its closely watched Tankan survey, a quarterly report that investors use to gauge the mood and outlook of companies. The Tankan, released shortly before trading should have begun, showed sentiment among Japan’s big manufacturers was improving less quickly than expected.

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