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Will Blunders Ever Cease In Wall Street Trading? Technology Helps, But the Devil Is in the Wrong

Traders Magazine, April 1998

Michael L. O'Reilly

It was 3:50 p.m. EST on Wednesday, and the market was stable. The New York Stock Exchange was set to close in ten minutes. A trader posted a trade of 1,100 shares of United Technologies at 11 3/4. The problem was that the previous trade had been printed at 111 7/8. The trader posting the 1,100-share print had left a digit off his quote.

The erroneous trade caused a five-percent tailspin in the Dow Jones Industrial Average minutes before the closing bell. The error turned a 40-point rise in the Dow into a disastrous 257-point drop.

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