India's largest stock exchange was brought to a brief halt on Friday after a local financial firm placed dozens of erroneous orders worth more than $125 million (77 million pounds), triggering a sharp fall on the Nifty stock index <.NSEI>.
The National Stock Exchange said a single dealer terminal at Emkay Global Financial Services placed 59 erroneous orders for an institutional client, resulting in trades worth over 6.5 billion rupees. The trades triggered a sudden drop of more than 900 points on the 50-share Nifty index to a session low of 4,888.20 points - 15.5 percent below Thursday's close.
Emkay, a financial services firm founded 17 years ago, closed out all the positions from the misplaced trades, the NSE clarified later, adding the firm had been "disabled" from trading, without giving further details.
By 0745 GMT, the index was trading down 0.7 percent.
"These non-algo market orders have been entered for an erroneous quantity which resulted in executing trades at multiple price points across the entire order book, thereby causing the circuit filter to be triggered," the NSE said in an earlier statement.
An exchange source declined to comment on what would happen to trades placed by parties other than Emkay at the time of the trading halt.
Officials at Emkay did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Shares of Emkay, valued at more than $16 million, fell by the daily limit of 10 percent.
Trading on the NSE, whose $731 billion market value exceeds that of Bombay's Sensex (BSE) index <.BSESN>, was halted for around 15 minutes during morning trading. NSE futures and options markets traded as normal and the BSE was uninterrupted.
Some financial stocks, which make up more than a fifth of the exchange's value, fell sharply before trading was halted, including State Bank of India and mortgage lender HDFC .
In April, a sudden drop in Nifty futures sparked speculation of an erroneous trade, but the exchange said no errors had been spotted on its trading systems.
(Reporting by Abhishek Vishnoi and Manoj Dharra; Writing by Rafael Nam; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)