The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Google's scare on Wall Street

September 30, 2008 |  4:41 pm

A passerby checks out the Nasdaq

It was already a wild day on Wall Street. Then it got even wilder today on the Nasdaq for Google investors.

At first, all was right with the tech world. Stocks were swimming in a sea of green, recovering from a bloody red Monday. Google was trading up slightly most of the day, staying in a fairly narrow but very respectable range.

Then suddenly in the final few minutes, the stock began to soar and plummet like an out-of-control yo-yo. Google Finance lists the day's high as $488.43 and the low as $25.80.

Felix Salmon's reaction: Say what? We knew we were in the middle of a financial meltdown, but come on.

Nasdaq's surveillance arm got on the case at, ahem, Internet speed. It turns out "erroneous orders" that were routed to Nasdaq from another market center had triggered the plunge, a Nasdaq spokesman said in an e-mail. He did not say which exchange was responsible.

Nasdaq canceled all trades at or above $425.29 and trades at or below $400.52 that were executed between 3:57 and 4:02 EDT. Nasdaq set the closing price at $400.52, which was a 5% gain after Monday's 12% loss. The decision cannot be appealed, he said.

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

Wiping out trades is not a happy business at Nasdaq. It's both rare and embarrassing. But at least fund managers' hearts are no longer in their throats. Google's closing price is far below the company's all-time high. But today investors will take it and like it.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: A passerby in Times Square checks out the Nasdaq Marketsite studio. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press