The New York Stock Exchange (search) halted trading with four minutes to go before the closing bell Wednesday due to a communications malfunction in the system that transmits stock prices to brokers worldwide.

NYSE spokespeople had no immediate comment on the trading disruption. The exchange considered reopening trading as late as 4:45 p.m. EDT, but decided against doing so.

The last trade conducted in a given stock before the trading was halted was considered the stock's closing price. Trading was halted at 3:56 p.m. EDT.

Stocks listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market (search) were unaffected, but the Nasdaq did not trade any NYSE-listed securities in its SuperMontage system when the NYSE halted trading, according to spokeswoman Bethany Sherman.

Nasdaq's Web site for stock traders reported a problem with the Securities Industry Automation Corp. communications feed, which transmits prices for stocks listed on the NYSE and the American Stock Exchange (search).

The Amex also halted trading a few minutes before the end of the trading session, citing a network problem. Amex spokesperson Mary Chung said the exchange would open on schedule Thursday.