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Nasdaq Glitch Hits ETF Market

Eric Dutram

After a series of trading glitches impacting major U.S. exchanges, it appears as though the Nasdaq was the next in line for issues. The all-electronic trading platform experienced a huge technical problem which kept their market shutdown for roughly three hours in Thursday trading.

The shutdown hit the roughly 2,700 stocks that are traded on the platform, including a number of technology behemoths such as Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), and Google (GOOG). The halt also impacted options trading, leaving investors completely in the dark on updates prices for much of the session (see 3 Tech ETFs Still Going Strong).

Trading was finally restored in the last half hour or so of trading, and fortunately, many shares move higher after the shutdown. Nasdaq’s own shares, NDAQ, weren’t as lucky as investors sold off the company, pushing down shares by 3.4% following the issues. In fact, NDAQ actually saw volume that was above average for the day, even with the long cutout in the middle of the session.

ETF Impact

The shutdown also hit a number of ETFs, as more than 100 funds trade on the Nasdaq. This includes a variety of products from a number of issuers—including several ultra-popular funds—so the impact was pretty widespread for ETF investors on the day. Below, we highlight a few of the most popular funds that were impacted by this trading blackout and how they held up after service was restored:

Easily the most popular—and most obviously impacted—was the PowerShares QQQ ETF (QQQ). This fund tracks the Nasdaq 100 index and generally does volume of about 30 million shares a day (see all the Large Cap ETFs).

Thanks to the trading halt though, volume came in just above 16 million shares for the day, roughly half a normal session. However, prices appeared to be unaffected as QQQ finished the day up roughly 1%.

Meanwhile, some leveraged counterparts for the Nasdaq 100 Index, such as TQQQ and SQQQ also were unaffected from a performance perspective. However, these two saw volumes that were roughly 50% of a normal session too (see all the Leveraged Equity ETFs here).

International-focused Nasdaq-listed ETFs also saw uncertain trading in Thursday’s session. This was led by two relatively popular iShares products, ACWI and ACWX. Both of these products saw volume that was far less than normal with big gaps in between bursts of volume throughout the day.

Finally, arguably one of the most popular sector focused ETFs trading on the Nasdaq, IBB, also saw a plunge in trading volume for the day. The popular ETF which has roughly $3.7 billion in assets saw volume that was roughly half a normal day, though other products like BBH did see some sluggish volume thanks to a large number of underlying securities trading on the Nasdaq (see 3 Impressive Biotech ETFs Crushing the Market).

NDAQ Impact

Investors should also note that NDAQ takes a decent sized chunk of assets in the iShares US Broker Dealers ETF (IAI). For this fund, NDAQ makes up roughly 4.3% of assets, making it important but not vital for the ETF’s overall return.

Based on this, it is safe to say that NDAQ’s slump didn’t have a very big impact on the rest of the industry, though the trend is certainly troubling. Investors should definitely keep an eye on this space going forward though, as a series of major issues with the exchanges could result in new rules or regulation, possibly spurring a further sell-off in the future for this ETF.

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