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NYSE, Nasdaq Play Blame Game

Stocks in this article: NYX NDAQ PG

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --- The finger-pointing continued Friday between the Nasdaq Stock Market and the New York Stock Exchange in the wake of Thursday's 1,000-point intraday stock market plunge -- despite calls from both sides for a stop to all blame-finding.

At its essence, the spat is just the latest iteration of an ancient debate in the trading world, one that most people had thought was long ago put to bed: human beings vs. electronic trading.

This time around, following the historic oddity of the trading action of the prior session, NYSE Euronext (NYX), the parent of the New York Stock Exchange, suggested that its hybrid computer-human system could have prevented yesterday's mayhem if it weren't for Nasdaq, which continued to trade those stocks, allowing the floors to drop in them.

For its part, Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ), parent of the world's most famous electronic exchange, said the very hybrid nature of the NYSE was the root of the problem: Had electronic trading been allowed to continue apace in the handful of stocks behaving so crazily, markets would have operated in orderly fashion.

There was talk from both sides -- which are locked in a widely watched battle for market share, not just in the U.S. but around the world -- about the need for establishing universal circuit breakers for each individual equity listing that all exchanges would honor. When the NYSE halts electronic trading in certain stocks, the buying and selling can move to other exchanges, including those operated by Nasdaq.

Both the Big Board and Nasdaq also announced they will cancel trades in stocks that moved 60% or more during the height of Thursday's bizarre downdraft.

So far, amid all the talk of fat fingers typing "billion" instead of "million" and high-frequency traders turbo-charging the selloff, little has been sorted out, and the root cause of the glitch remains a mystery.

The two exchanges met with officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday after the bell, and, in Washington, congressional hearings have been scheduled for Tuesday to address the mess, which will assuredly impact the financial-system reform debate ongoing in the Senate.

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