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Third cyber attack halts NZX trading

A new record was snatched from the New Zealand share market as a third cyber attack shut down the exchange after just one hour of trading.

Thursday, August 27th 2020, 6:27PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index was up 21.92 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,053.43, when trading was halted at 11:10am. Within the index, 26 stocks were up, 16 were down and eight were unchanged. Turnover was just $22.7 million.

The benchmark index was on a path to hit a new record when the exchange was hit by a fresh attack, blocking access to its website and public announcement system. The NZX 50 rose as high as 12,107.45 on Feb. 21.

The NZX has been targeted by a string of distributed denial of service attacks since Tuesday, which have now disrupted trading for three days in a row.

“It is clearly aimed solely at disruption and they are, at this stage, achieving their goal,” said David Price, head of institutional broking at Forsyth Barr.

The interruption was not likely to have any effect on market prices or confidence, he said.

“It’s a bit hopeless when you are trying to do trades and you get an hour to do the whole thing. But you just have to operate on the basis that there is going to be market integrity, and everyone is in the same position.”

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said the index would likely have hit a new record today.

“We missed our milestone, but we can just try again tomorrow,” he said.

Lister said the outage was just an inconvenience but said it was a “bad look” for the NZX given that it happened three days in a row.

Before the trading halt, Vista Group International had been leading the market higher. The cinema software company today reported a $43.2 million first-half net loss but claimed a stronger competitive position than before. Investors were convinced and shares in the company were up 19.3 percent at $1.61.

Air New Zealand reported its first loss in 18 years and while it was not quite as bad as it expected, the airline won’t pay a final dividend and it expects to draw down on the government’s loan facility in the coming days. Its share price was up 0.4 percent at $1.415 when trading stopped.

The government loan can be converted into equity which would dilute shareholders stake in the company.

In currency markets, the kiwi dollar made modest gains. Mark Johnson, an adviser at OMF, said generally improved market sentiment, which saw global equities push higher, also gave the kiwi dollar a boost. Traders are awaiting a speech from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell at the central bank's annual symposium.

“It traded up today to a high of 66.47 and has just pared back about 20 points, but really it is a question of treading water ahead of the Powell speech tonight.”

The kiwi dollar was trading at 66.23 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, up from 65.50 cents yesterday.

The trade-weighted index was at 71.45 at 5pm, up from 70.83 yesterday. The kiwi traded at 91.50 Australian cents from 91.04 cents, 70.17 yen from 69.69 yen, 55.97 euro cents from 55.44 cents, 50.14 British pence from 49.86 pence, and 4.5582 Chinese yuan from 4.5216 yuan.

Tags: Market Close

« Shares rise, cyber attack interrupts tradingReeling from cyber attacks, NZX 50 shuffles to record »

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Last updated: 21 September 2020 10:48am

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