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Bloomberg Terminals Go Dark For Hours, Sending Ripples Through Markets

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange on Friday.

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

If there's one piece of hardware that can be found on nearly every trader's desk, regardless of time zone, it's the Bloomberg data terminal.

So when the terminals experienced a global outage lasting hours, it sent chaos through markets where the "screens" are relied upon to analyze and interpret financial data — and to exchange market gossip with traders around the world.

Zero Hedge, a financial news site, says the outage led to "widespread panic among traders mostly in Europe, who were flying blind and unable to chat with other, just as clueless colleagues (the one function used predominantly on the terminal is not charts, nor analytics, but plain old chat)."

The Wall Street Journal quoted Louis Gargour, the chief investment officer at London-based LNG Capital, as saying "We're flying blind."

"It's scary how dependent we have become on our Bloomberg screens," Anthony Peters, a strategist at London-based capital markets adviser SwissInvest, was quoted as saying by the Journal.

Reuters, which is a Bloomberg competitor, quoted Ioan Smith, managing director of KCG Europe, as saying that traders had to "catch up" on important market chatter "after the Bloomberg terminals came back online, and that's when we saw the falls in Europe."

The Associated Press adds that the problems "prompted the British government to postpone a planned 3 billion-pound ($4.4 billion) debt issue." It notes:

"Users say the outage started as trading was getting in full swing around 8 a.m. in London, one of the world's largest financial centers, particularly in foreign exchange and bond markets."

CNBC says Bloomberg confirmed that the outage began about 8:20 a.m. London time and that service was restored to most users by 12:45 p.m. In a statement issued later, Bloomberg acknowledged the outage had affected "significant but not all parts" of its network and that "there is no indication at this point that this is anything other than an internal network issue."

AP notes: "The disruption is likely to cause concern at Bloomberg. The company has become the world's biggest financial information provider, overtaking rival Reuters. Bloomberg is privately held and is not obliged to divulge financial information, but it said in September that its revenue grew to more than $9 billion in 2014, with 320,000 subscribers globally."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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