The Nasdaq market said it removed the stock quotes of three large electronic communications networks from its computer system for about three hours Wednesday because of problems with new Nasdaq software.

Nasdaq's action meant investors might not have had access to the best prices to buy or sell. Investors' orders to buy or sell that were entered directly into those electronic networks could not be disseminated to other brokers, and other brokers who wanted to trade with those customers could not. "Nasdaq has had a catastrophic system failure today," said Matt Andresen, president of Island ECN Inc., one of the networks whose quotes were pulled. ''They've chosen to voluntarily fragment their own market.''

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