Compootrs R Smrt

This is what can happen when you let technology decide too many things too quickly:

UAL Story Blame Is Placed on Computer

Events Remain Murky, But Automated Search, Trades Played Roles

As Tribune Co. and Google Inc. pointed fingers at each other over the glitch that cratered UAL Corp.’s stock Monday, blame spread to the computers that robotically troll the Web for news stories and execute stock trades automatically.

An old article about UAL’s 2002 bankruptcy-court filing resurfaced Monday as an apparently fresh report on Google’s news service. Stock in the parent company of United Airlines quickly dropped to $3 a share from nearly $12.50 before the Nasdaq Stock Market halted trading and UAL issued a statement denying any fresh Chapter 11 filing.

UAL’s stock price ended Tuesday’s session at $10.60, down 2.8% on the day and nearly 13% off Monday’s open.

Nasdaq and lawyers for Tribune and UAL are investigating the incident, and the circumstances of the glitch remain murky.

I have no idea what United Airlines market cap is — and I’m too lazy to take 30 seconds and figure it out — but a figure in the several hundreds of millions of dollars or more can’t be too far off. And 75% of that money just disappeared for a few minutes on Monday.

All because of some news website accidentally posting a story from 2002.

Talk about viral.

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