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Hong Kong stock exchange halts trading after hack attack

Seven companies affected, including HSBC, Cathay Pacific Airways and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Hackers broke into the Hong Kong stock exchange news Web site today, forcing the exchange to suspend trading of seven companies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The affected companies, which included HSBC, Cathay Pacific Airways and the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, which runs the bourse, had all released price-sensitive information earlier in the day. The exchange's news site publishes corporate filings.

"Our current assessment that this is a result of a malicious attack by outside hacking," Charlies Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, told reporters.

The compromise did not affect other systems at the exchange, such as the trading system, according to the exchange.

"It was the first time for a suspension due to such a kind of technical problem and one involving so many companies," Alfred Chan, chief dealer at Cheer Pearl Investment in Hong Kong, told Reuters.

The afternoon trading halt affected stocks contributing to about 18 percent of the Hang Seng index's weight, according to the Bangkok Post.

The Zimbabwe stock exchange Web site was attacked by hackers on Friday, forcing a shutdown of the site, according to the Bangkok Post.