Traders were scratching their heads Friday morning as CME Globex natural gas futures and options markets went dark at 10:04 a.m. EDT.

The CME Global Command Center issued a notice shortly after the shutdown. "Due to technical issues, the CME Globex Natural Gas futures and options markets have been halted," the statement said. Damon Leavell, senior director of CME's commodity products, told NGI that no trades were lost during the outage, floor trading was still available and customers could still clear through ClearPort. As for the cause of the outage, Leavell said CME is currently not expanding upon its "technical issues" explanation.

After coming back online at 11 a.m. EDT, the exchange said it still did not know the reason for the outage and that some users were experiencing issues with the system. "Some customers in the CME Globex Natural Gas Complex are reporting stale market data," the command center said in a note to customers. "Support is investigating."

"There was some stale data on some of our illiquid natural gas contracts, but everything has been corrected," Leavell told NGI. "There were no data issues with any of our actively traded natural gas contracts."

During the outage, the command center issued a notice that the natural gas futures and options markets were to pre-open at 10:45 a.m. EDT and open at 11:00 a.m. EDT. "All day and session orders, including GTDs [good till date orders] with today's date will be canceled. All GTCs [good till cancel orders] that have been acknowledged will remain working," the exchange said.

"Across all of our futures products, business is done overwhelmingly on Globex -- 95-99% depending on the product," Leavell said. "For options, there is more trading on the floor and on ClearPort."

Prior to going dark, the October natural gas futures contract was trading at $2.696, down 8 cents from Thursday's regular session close. Once trading resumed nearly an hour later at 11 a.m. EDT, the front-month contract was at $2.700. The October contract ended up closing out Friday's regular session at $2.682, down 9.4 cents from Thursday's finish (see related story).

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